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On 26 June the international community marks the International Day in Support of Survivors of Torture.

Father John Murphy, Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office, and Sandie Cornish, National Executive Officer of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council made the following statement today to mark the International Day in Support of Survivors of Torture.

Torture continues to take place all around the world, including within our region.

Today we remember especially those survivors of torture who have sought refuge in Australia, hoping to find safety and a chance to rebuild their lives.  Once again, on this International Day in Support of Survivors of Torture we must ask ourselves: How well have we as a nation welcomed and supported survivors of torture?

As Bishop Morris, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, said on this day last year, “Human dignity is at the centre of Catholic thinking about human rights and social justice, and torture is a profound attack on human dignity.  In torture the victim is treated as something less than human and the perpetrator becomes less human.  Respect for human dignity and human rights calls us to act to stop torture in whatever way we can.”

We may encounter victims of torture without realising it.  The scars are not always visible or of a physical nature.  Often they are traumatised again by recounting their experiences and prefer not to talk about it.

We must bring the hidden horror of torture into the light, and work for its elimination.  We must raise our voices on behalf of those who are silenced by torture.

We invite you to consider taking some of the following actions:

  • Pray for survivors of torture on 26 June & include survivors of torture in the prayers of the faithful during Mass at the weekend
  • Pray for those who inflict torture
  • Make use of the Amnesty International resource materials for action against torture available at www.amnesty.org.
  • Read the prison writings of Cardinal Van Thuan, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience.  These writings share his story of surviving torture and have inspired and given hope to many.
  • Visit www.fiacat.org for information about the international Catholic campaign to end torture
  • Provide financial support to services for survivors of torture and trauma
  • Set up a shrine or monument to survivors of torture in your community
  • Mediate on the image of the crucified Christ.

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