Statement on Refugees

Comhaltacht na nGaedheal: Cairdreabh nan Gàidheal

Comhaltacht na nGaedheal: Cairdreabh nan Gàidheal (Fellowship of Gaels)

Comhairle Dhraoithe (Council of Clergy)

Statement on Refugees and Asylum Seekers

26 July 2019

A study of traditional cultural practices, ancient law, folklore and the ancient myths clearly show that it always has been our view to recognise and respect the innate human dignity born into every person. In short, there are no 'throwaway people' and every person upon their birth has innate humanity that is due respect and recognition of their human rights. These human rights, as conceptualised, have evolved considerably over the last thousand years and have arrived at an internationally recognised standard set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a religious fellowship, we fully endorse these current standards of human rights and the continuing evolution and articulation of human rights.

A study of traditional cultural practices, ancient law, folklore and the ancient myths clearly show that it always has been our custom to provide hospitality to the traveller and care for those in need. Our duty of hospitality is incumbent upon us in as much as we respect the humanity of others and in as much as we have an ethical responsibility to show ourselves to be moral people of honour. Hospitality is a duty that we have toward the humanity of others, toward the honouring of the ancestral ways which inspire and inform us, toward our deities, and toward ourselves and our own reputations.

For cultures throughout history and around the world, the family has been the cornerstone of teaching and raising children in the ways of their people and of passing on culture and language. Family and language are vital factors in preserving cultural identity and world-view. It is the responsibility of everyone to endeavour to help preserve healthy families, especially when those families are from cultures and societies in crisis. Each family should be respected and their structure and identity supported and assisted when they are in crisis.

We are concerned that slave auctions have resumed in North Africa and that the practice of purchasing and owning other humans is returning.

In the last thousand years, the various human cultures have evolved beyond the practice of chattel slavery with the last slave caravans transporting Sub-Saharan African slaves occurring around the dawn of the 20th century – barely more than a hundred years ago. The practice of chattel slavery is repugnant in the extreme and is in direct defiance of international law and should disgust all ethical people. All efforts must be made to bring this resurgent practice to an end.

We are concerned that some European nations on the northern coast of the Mediterranean are refusing to accept people who are adrift in unseaworthy boats and so are in immediate danger of death. Furthermore, these countries are, in some cases, seeking to criminalise the rendering of aid on the high seas and prosecuting the captains of ships rendering aid.

It is a violation of basic humanity to force a person to remain in a position of imminent threat such as forcing a person to remain at sea in a vessel that is adrift.

The duty to render aid on the high seas to a vessel in distress is a well-established principle of international maritime law and is an incumbent moral duty of any and all ship captains and so these prosecutions are illegal.

We are concerned that several nations are seeking to criminalise refugees and asylum seekers and placing them into long term custody in prisons, camps or facilities managed like prisons and with poor conditions and treatment. Refugees and asylum seekers are a protected class under international law and treaty – treaties to which these nations are signatory. The criminalisation of members of this recognised class of people is illegal.

We are concerned and protest the abusive treatment of children by policies of general family separation and the incarceration of these children. An action that is internationally considered an act of genocide. Furthermore, the permanent separation of children from their families and subsequent placing of these children with adoptive families is a criminal and genocidal act violating their fundamental dignity as humans in seeking to completely alter who they are in their cultural and personal identities.

The aforementioned practices are repugnant in the extreme and the people who engage in these practises have abdicated their honour and the honour of the people whom they represent. Those engaging in these acts have made themselves a pariah to humanity and to international justice. We urge all good and ethical people to work toward ending these reprehensible practices; to remove, through every legal means, leaders who have become pariahs to humanity and to thereby restore the morality, honour and reputations of their nations.

We invite all good and ethical people to add their signatures to this statement and join with us in this effort.

Robert L. Barton, Ceann na Comhairle

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