With the tradition of setting up a theme every year, MEFF 2018 theme was “Concern for Global Human Rights Violations” highlighting case studies in Myanmar, China, Gaza, Kashmir as well as drawing attention to the poor treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in the West.

Mr Zia Ahmad Editor-in-Chief of AMUST, the Australasian Muslim Times and Trustee of Islamic Foundation for Education and Welfare and Australian MEFF Consortium, while introducing the theme for MEFF 2018 said, “Historically, Western countries in general and the US in particular including Australia have been in the forefront of protection of  Human Rights for all people. However, there has been an erosion of care of Human Rights during the last few years as a result of influx of refugees and asylum seekers due to wars, conflicts and oppression in a number of countries.”

Mr Zia Ahmad

“We, as a people living in the West as well as our governments generally have developed double standards when it comes to protecting universal Human Rights. In order to safeguard our national interests, we are not as much concerned in protecting Human Rights universally,” he said.

Mr Chris Hayes MP, Federal Member for Fowler and Chief Opposition Whip said, “I reflect on today’s theme for this reception, by taking this opportunity to discuss the deteriorating humanitarian crisis that has ensued between the Myanmar security forces in the Rakhine State, and the minority Rohingya Muslims, since August of 2017.”

Chris Hayes, MP.

“I will continue to advocate for ensuring that the Government takes a strong stance against the authorities in Myanmar, and maintains its support for unimpeded humanitarian access,” he said.

Mrs Zulfia Erk an active member of Sydney’s Uyghur community talked on the plight of Uyghur people in the Xinjiang province living under oppression by Chinese authorities. She highlighted persecution by the Chinese government of Uyghur Muslims, a religious and cultural minority in the communist nation. She talked about forced marriages, rapes, brainwashing camps, prohibition of Islamic religious practices and discrimination against Uyghur people in the Western part of China.

Mr Hanif Bismi

Mr Hanif Bismi, Writer, Political Analyst and Community Activist and Vice President of MEFF who visited Kashmir recently talked about the denial of self determination of Kashmiris by the Indian Government and the atrocities being committed by the Indian military in the valley of Kashmir against young people.

Rev Dr Patrick McInerney,  Director of the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations while reflecting on the theme said, “There is no such thing as the Muslim community. You are Muslim communities.”

Rev Dr Patrick McInerney.

The five Case Studies highlighted during the MEFF 2018 included: 

  1. West: Treatment of refugees and asylum seekers with long internment in refugee camps and separation of families and children in US, Europe and Australia go against the upholding of human rights.
  2. Myanmar/Burma: Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have fled due to atrocities being committed against a vast population in their homeland and there is no solution in sight of their settlement and punishment for those who have committed their human right violations.
  3. Israel: The Gaza Strip remains an unliveable open air prison where more than 130 unarmed protestors have been killed and thousands injured by Israeli snipers, that UN is investigating as war crimes.
  4. China: The treatment of the Uyghur minority by Chinese authorities unnoticed by the word is of great concern. There are reports of a million Uyghurs in “brainwashing camps” who are being -de-Islamised and normal religious Islamic practices of prayers, fasting are being restricted in the state of Xinjiang.
  5. Kashmir: According to UN Human Rights Council, Indian Military forces have killed and wounded a large number of Kashmiris since mid 2016 and their right to self-determination have been denied.