AN EASTER sculpture with a confronting political message is on display at the Uniting Church’s St Kilda Parish Mission.

094138-d0998e26-c06d-11e3-9f81-e39c1729a2e8The Rev John Tansey installed the three life-size wooden crucifixes to voice his protest of the Federal Government’s offshore asylum seekers policy.

Barbed-wire figures of a father, mother and infant hang from the imposing crucifixes on church grounds at the busy intersection of Carlisle St and Chapel St.

Plaques atop the crosses bear the names of the offshore detention centres, Christmas Island Nauru and Manus Island, where 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati was killed during February riots.

Each crucifix bears the name of one of the islands being used by the Federal Government a

Each crucifix bears the name of one of the islands being used by the Federal Government as offshore detention centres. Source: News Limited

094056-64984ef0-c06e-11e3-9f81-e39c1729a2e8Mr Tansey said his installation, made with 800m of barbed wire, aimed to draw a parallel between the deterrence aims of the government’s asylum seeker policy, and that of the Romans who used crucifixion to punish political dissent.

“Since time began, governments have used terror, torture, and fear to reinforce their authority,” he said.

“All kinds of human rights abuses are justified by these governments as deterrents. Jesus was crucified because he spoke out against injustice. This work reflects on the way the cross was used in the past as a tool for fear and intimidation and the way the Australian government is currently treating men, women and children, in offshore detention centres.”

Mr Tansey said he hoped the work would provoke people to look at the Easter story in a new way and reconsider the ethics of detention centres.

Father Bob Maguire threw his support behind the reverend’s protest, labelling the sculptures an “excellent” idea.

Sister Brigid Arthur, of Albert Park’s Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project, said she hoped it would galvanise public opinion.

“Art is a powerful medium,” Sister Brigid said.

“I sense there is growing awareness around this issue, but more action is needed. We’ve got pregnant women from Nauru in Melbourne who are going to be sent back as soon as the baby is born… and children living in detention for as long as five years.”

She urged supporters to write to their local MP and to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, and to offer practical help where possible.

The Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project provides accommodation, financial and material support to asylum seekers living in detention and in the community.

The Leader is waiting for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to respond to its request for comment.

Dana McCauley, Port Phillip Leader, April 10, 2014

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