neither refugee nor refuged: christ, empire & the unsolution

The so-called Malaysian Solution marks a terrible chapter in Australia’s immigration history.

While many people have tried to argue that Julia Gillard lied about the carbon tax, I find this argument to be wilfully ignorant of the events of the last twelve months.

Where Gillard has lied, however, is on the issue of asylum seekers. She has previously claimed that the Howard Government’s so-called Pacific Solution was, “costly, unsustainable and wrong as a matter of principle.”

It seems the Labor Party’s tune has changed. Far from railing against the inhumanity of sending people offshore indefinitely, Labor has instituted a policy that is in many ways worse than the Pacific Solution. Instead of abiding by a commitment to processing asylum seekers within a nation that is a signatory to the UNHCR Refugee Convention, Labor has decided to send asylum seekers to a country that the UNHCR calls a “challenging protection environment“.

Not that I expect any government to hold, to an extensive degree, values like compassion and integrity (nor apparently an opposition party either!)

In saying this I do have hope. What I hope for is for a people to embrace an attitude of compassion as desired by God and as demonstrated by Christ. A people who will embrace the narrative of God’s liberation for the oppressed. A people who will turn from the idolatry of nationalism and embrace a God who declares “No more!” in regards to racial and social barriers.*

Christ’s death on the cross is, after all, the great universaliser; any and all walls of hostility are broken down because they are placed on his crucified body and die along with him.

This death took on the full force of imperial power claims and violence and rendered them powerless in the Resurrection. Should not the people of the Resurrection affirm the end of such imperial identity and control?

Who are we? We are certainly not people who prioritise national identities. For there is neither Australian nor Afghan, asylum seeker nor free person, refugee nor refuged – us nor them – but Christ is all, and in all.


To read about the story of my recent trip to Villawood Detention Centre check out Asylum Seeker Stories from Villawood.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28); “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)

Posted on July 28, 2011, in Advocacy, Culture & Art, New Testament, Politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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