On behalf of the 452nd person in offshore detention

Dear Prime Minister,

This is my 452nd letter to you. I cannot comprehend how much worse the situation has become since I started writing these letters. What do you, Minister Dutton, Mike Pezzullo, et al, need to tell yourselves about the men, women and children in offshore and onshore detention to justify the way you treat them? In what ways must you deny their humanity?

What do you say to yourself when Mohammad Farahi, a Kurdish refugee four years on Nauru, pleads to be allowed to go to Brisbane to be with his ill wife for the birth of their first child?

What do you say to yourself about Sr Keogh when she tells her eye-witness accounts of the illnesses and injuries and lack of care for the refugees on Manus Island? Are you heartened when you hear her say 'You can't hope to get any changes with the government'?

What do you need to tell yourself about each of the 1800+ offshore detainees? Like Walid Zazai, a young man only a few months older than my daughter, who speaks and writes politely, sensitively about his desperate situation on Manus. What do you feel when you listen to his quiet words? Do you notice that Walid, after all his suffering, can still talk of love?

Or do you still do what I saw you do, twice, when I took my protest to you in Albany? Do you turn away, do you tilt your body and your face away from all of these questions, from each of these individual humans? Do you make jokes, like Pezzullo does, about torture? Are you still too frightened to face the consequences of what you oversee?

We activists do not turn away. We see. The refugees see and feel it on their bodies and on their souls. More and more the world sees. End mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees. Bring all men, women and children in offshore detention to safety and freedom now.

Their lives in our hands

Dear Prime Minister,

Today Shamindan Kanapadhi sent the following message from Manus Island to the Australians who marched during the Walk Together rallies yesterday:

Dear Supporters of the Refugees and Asylum Seekers,
We are overwhelmed by the support from your organisation, showing the compassion towards the asylum seekers and refugees who are detained in Manus Island and Nauru detention centres run by the Department of Australian Border Forces, of the Government of Australia.
We do not know how to exhibit our gratitude and heartfelt thanks for your support. At the moment, we have nothing other than our warm tears. We are extremely grateful to your organisation for your fight for our freedom and human rights.
Your support and compassion is up lifting our morale and strength. The situation is deteriorating and it leads to a devastating end. We have no hope but your fight for our freedom.
There are six innocent refugees who sacrificed their life to demonstrate our situation and to open up the politicians heart and minds. Sadly still that haven’t and they don’t want to hear the grief we have for our life. The immigration and the government continued to punish us without any crime. They want to kick us off to danger to extreme danger.
The Manus community continuously showing their concerns. They don’t want us to be in their community and place.
Both PNG and Australian governments are forcing us to move to town. In order to implement to move they reduce the drinking water, food, facilities and removing fences. After 31st of October there will be no drinking water, food, power and facilities. We have no choice other than to resist and remain in the camp.
We leave our lives in your hand, please help us support us,
Thank you
— Shamindan Kanapadhi

The men on Manus are in real fear for their lives. The men, women and children on Nauru continue to suffer. Four years! Four years of lies and torture. Bring them all urgently to safety and freedom now.

Shocking and disturbing

Dear Prime Minister,

Yesterday at the UNHCR in Geneva the expert committee condemned your Government for 'chronic non-compliance' with international human rights laws.

Today the UNHCR committee focussed on our cruelty to refugees. It described the offshore detention regime as 'shocking' and 'disturbing.' Bizarrely the Australian officials argued that there is no policy of mandatory and indefinite detention of people seeking asylum. The Australian Migration Act disagrees. As do the UN and those who know personally: all the refugees and people seeking asylum who have been locked up for years, with no end date.

Further evidence of Australia's shocking and disturbing treatment of refugees is in the notice given today to the men in Manus RPC that after 31 October the power and water will be cut off, all fences removed, all staff will leave and the site will be handed over to the PNG military.

Instead of fudging the facts to try and save face on the world stage, the Government should do the decent, sensible and lawful thing – stop being deliberately cruel to innocent people and bring the men, women and children languishing on Manus and Nauru to safety in Australia.
— Amy Frew, Lawyer with the Human Rights Law Centre

Bring them all here now.

Australia's dehumanising actions

Dear Prime Minister,

How does Australia benefit from ignoring the UNHCR's urgent call to prevent a 'looming humanitarian emergency' with 'critical risk of instability and harm' in PNG?

Who benefits from Michaelia Cash's plan to cut off water to the refugees in Manus RPC?

How much money is Canstruct, a Queensland company, getting to take over Broadspectrum's role at the detention centre on Nauru?

This is how Naeem Bangash answers from inside Manus RPC:

THE DEHUMANISE ACTIONS UNDER WAY AGAINST THE VULNERABLE REFUGEES ON LOMBARAM DETENTION CENTER.
With every passing day, we find more and more intensity in the measures taken against the vulnerable people in the detention. They want to remove the people to ELRTC under coercion. For the purpose, they are exerting every possible pressure on the already mentally and physically unwell inmates. First of all they reduced the catering to the minimum point. Later on they stopped our clothing, toiletries and refugee welfare points completely. Now, they have halted our essential medication and refugee shuttle service to and from the Township completely in a measure to pressurize to make them move to the unsecured facility in the east of the island adjacent to locals. If really they want to close the center down, they should fly out all the inmates to USA on the emergency grounds rather than to swap one prison with another one.
— Naeem Bangash

Naeem Bangash has the answer. Fly out all inmates, as an emergency, to freedom and safety.

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Remember Khodayar Amini

Dear Prime Minister,

Today is the second anniversary of Khodayar Amini's death. The day before he died he sent a message in Dari to his friend, a refugee advocate. The draconian Australian immigration system gave him, a refugee, no place to go. This is a translation of his words:

I Khodayar Amini write the following few sentences with my blood for those apathetic so called human beings. Yes they did this to me, with slogans of humanity, sentenced me to death. My crime was that I was a refugee. They tortured me for 37 months and during all these times, they treated me in the most cruel and inhumane way. They violated my basic human right and took away my human dignity with their false and so called humane slogans. They killed me as well as many of my friends such as: Nasim Najafi, Reza Rezayee and Ahmad Ali Jaffari. They were my friends and their crime was that they had sought asylum in Australia. I write this statement with my blood for those who call themselves human beings, I ask you to stand up for the rights of refugees and stop people being killed just because they have become refugees. Humanity is not a slogan; every human being has the right to live. Living shouldn’t be a crime anymore. Red Cross, Immigration and the Police killed me with their slogans of humanity and cruel treatments.
— Khodayar Amini, died 18/10/2015

Australian refugee advocates see, over and over again, asylum seekers and refugees who suffer torture, humiliation and are killed, directly and indirectly, by the Australian state. There have been 29 of these deaths on Australian soil since 2010.

The process is designed to fail. There is no transparency. There is no accountability. Refugees pay a terrible price.

Prime Minister, show leadership for genuine human rights. Not platitudes on the International stage but tangible rights that all citizens, refugees and asylum seekers can experience directly and completely. Let there be no more suffering, no more deaths.

Their hearts and freedom in our hard hands

Dear Prime Minister,

How do you respond to this message from Walid Zazai?

Hi everyone, I am Walid Zazai,
I am sending you this message from the Australian run detention centre on Manus island in PNG. We are about 800 men here. We came to Australia to seek asylum and we have been brought here against our will in 2013. After 4 years of suffering we are still here. We need freedom in a safe country. Freedom for us would mean finally getting out of Manus and PNG to a safe country where we can start our new and peaceful life. We want our liberty back. We have been here for four years and its the waiting that’s the hardest. When will we be finally free? For how long do you want to keep us on this island? Australia and PNG please stop playing with our lives. We all long for love and that opportunity has been stolen from us. Please bring us to Australia. We will make it our home. We will give you our hearts and with every action we will show our thanks. Let me finish by asking you, please keep putting peaceful but loud and democratic pressure on the people who hold our freedom in their hard hands.
— Walid Zazai

When will we grant them freedom?

Refoulement

Dear Prime Minister,

It is refoulement to force a refugee back to the country they have fled from.

Manus Alert has reported that a man who had fled from Bangladesh was told he had an appointment with IHMS but when he arrived it was PNG Immigration officials at the meeting and he was forcibly put on a plane back to Bangladesh with no belongings, no money, just in the clothes and thongs he had on.

Australia is responsible for what happens to the refugees and asylum seekers that we forced onto Manus and Nauru. Bring them to safety and freedom now.

Forced resettlement danger

Dear Prime Minister,

At the same time as Manusian Ben Wamoi called for locals to direct their protest to Australia, the men detained on Manus have written to PNG authorities asking them to stop participating in the forced resettlement of refugees into the Manus community. The Manusians do not want the 700+ men in their small, poor community. The refugees are rightly afraid of being forced out of the relatively secure detention centre into insecure accommodation with no access to work and health care.

This does not meet even the most basic idea of appropriate resettlement. Australia forced PNG to take the refugees and prevented resettlement to countries such as New Zealand. The refugees are Australia's responsibility. Bring them to safety and freedom now.

Morally corrupt nation

Dear Prime Minister,

Ben Wamoi, a Manus Island man, is rallying the local Manus Island people against Australia's imprisonment and torture of refugees on their land. This is his statement:

We the genuine citizens of Manus and PNG will voice our concerns over mistreatments of these ASYLUM SEEKERS on our soil and will continue to hold meetings to demonstrate support for our freedoms to be free from all inhumane treatments imposed on us and on other fellow human beings on our soils.

Please communicate our concerns to the WORLD that we Manus People are also suffering from evil decisions made and imposed on us by our Governments.

To our friends in detentions where ever you are, we the peace loving people of Manus are also suffering like you.

We have voiced concerns and solidarity support for you and for our collective resolves to be free citizens of this global earth, but evil has its own agenda.

It will use leaders of morally corrupt nations to impose evil on lives of innocent people.

Please accept our remorse for what you have gone through and going through whilst here in Manus.
— Ben Wamoi

We are accused of being a morally corrupt nation who imposes evil on lives of innocent people. How will you free Manus and Nauru of the evil we have imposed, Prime Minister? How will you free the refugees?

End offshore detention #442

Dear Prime Minister,

After stopping access to cigarettes, coffee, tea and sugar Australian immigration has ordered IHMS on Manus to give the refugees one month's supply of their medications.

What risk is there to a person suffering from mental illness who is given a month's worth of pills?

Freedom

Dear Prime Minister,

Poet and gardener, Mohammad Ali Maleki, held a sign up in the rain during the 72nd day of peaceful protest at Manus RPC yesterday which read:

We belong to the nature
Set us free before we die

This is your opportunity, Prime Minister, to make a gesture of good will, of optimism, and end this poisonous situation on Manus Island and Nauru. It can be as positive and momentous as John Howard's gun buy back scheme after the Port Arthur massacre. Right the wrong, let PNG and Nauru get on with their own futures, and bring all detainees and 'resident in area' people to safety and freedom. What legacy do you choose?

A letter from Amir Taghinia

Dear Prime Minister,

Here is a letter from Amir Taghinia, a refugee from Iran trapped on Manus Island, to refugee advocate Marilyn Beech:

Hi Marilyn,
I am one of the refugees affected by the Turnbull government’s border protection policy.
Last night, the Turnbull government admitted that Papua New Guinea is unsafe for me and the people detained on Manus Island.
They planned to transfer us to Lorengau Transit Centre, where people seeking asylum were previously attacked with machetes. We were extremely afraid for our lives and told the Australian government we will be attacked if we go to Lorengau.
Yesterday they offered me and 739 refugees considered for the U.S deal a transfer from Manus to Nauru.
I am in Port Moresby right now for medical treatment and people detained on Nauru are telling me they are unsafe and suffering there. They are telling me not to come to Nauru.
Already too many lives have been lost, and the government knows that people are in danger in these camps, whether on Manus Island or Nauru.
We are all relying on you to take action. Can you please Call Prime Minister Turnbull today and ask him to #BringThemHere?
It has been more than four years of neglect, abuse and violence. 6 of us have died on Manus and 3 on Nauru, while 88% of the men, women and children left behind have been found to be suffering from a mental disorder.
They have designed this policy to fail us, we have the right to fairness, dignity and respect.
As the Manus detention centre closes soon, I think the government has no plan.
They are dragging hundreds of us from one dangerous camp to another.
Today, we ask you to join the movement for a fair and humane policy to stand up for your values of fairness, dignity and respect for people seeking asylum in Australia.
Your community is powerful enough to change the policy.
Call your Prime Minister.
Yours,
Amir Taghinia
— https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155830058047716&set=a.47736032715.56485.547502715&type=3&theater

There are immediate and extremely dangerous consequences for the refugees on Manus and for the local people, which become worse each day. Do not wait for even more deaths. Act now.

Moving Manus detainees to Nauru shows Australia's desperation

Dear Prime Minister,

Who is dreaming up these reactive, desperate last-minute plans for the men trapped on Manus Island?

Today it was suggested that people held on #Manus could volunteer to apply to transfer to #Nauru.
There is not enough community housing for the people on Nauru who have a positive refugee status, and many are still in the detention centre. This detention centre is built on an old phosphate mine where people are exposed to the heavy metal Cadmium which is toxic to humans and over the long term can have irreversible effects on internal organs.
Health care on Nauru is under the control of the government of Nauru. Any application for medical records requires permission from the government. To this day we don’t believe a single request has been granted. There are almost as many medical procedures unavailable on Nauru as there are on Manus. Medical transfers are notoriously difficult.
Employment on Nauru pays an average of $3 an hour and with fresh fruit and vegetables in short supply, a single cauliflower can cost up to $18 each. Phone credit is also much more expensive on Nauru than Manus.
Much like Manus, regular assaults and thefts on refugees are almost never investigated by the police. Any attempt to protest results in jail time. People are forbidden to gather in more than groups of three.
With local people on Manus angered by the decision to move 800 people into their community where resources are already stretched and tensions are high, the Australian government is resorting to desperate measures to pressure refugees into ever more dangerous situations.
Forced resettlement on Nauru and PNG has been an abject failure. Both for people who sought Australian protection and for the local communities feeling the effects of the bullying from the much larger colonial power.
— Refugee Action Collective (Victoria)

This attempt to push the fate of the men imprisoned on Manus onto Nauru shows again that Australia is a coward and a bully. The refugees caught by the arbitrary unfairness of Rudd's 2013 political manoeuvre are our responsibility and require our care and attention. Admit our mistake. Blame it on past governments if you need to save face. But please save us from sinking even further into injustice and immorality and act urgently to save these poor people. Act now for justice, freedom and restitution for the refugees.

Violence and fear

Dear Prime Minister,

We are tired. The refugees are exhausted and afraid. The locals on Manus and Nauru are angry and feel betrayed. The Manus deadline of 31 October to close the camp is looming and Australia seems to have coerced PNG into providing alternative accommodation, with no security for the refugees and no consultation with the locals. We are tired but we will not stop working until the refugees are safe. Thousands protested in Canberra and Melbourne, many more held vigils around the country for Rajeev, the latest victim. Protests and disruptions will continue.

You have the power to end the suffering. Bring all refugees in offshore detention to safety and freedom now.

End offshore detention

Dear Prime Minister,

On behalf of the 437th man imprisoned on Manus Island and the men, women and children on Manus and Nauru I beg you to end the suffering and bring all detainees to safety and freedom now. After the death of Rajeev on Monday and the continuing withdrawal of services to the RPC the situation is dire. It is an incredible act of bravery and self-restraint that the men on Manus continue their daily peaceful protests. Two of the banners yesterday read:

'If you want to kill us, kill us'

'Turnbull abandons his responsibilities when he abandons us'

It is your responsibility to act now, for justice and humanity. No more deaths.

68th day of peaceful protests

68th day of peaceful protests

Worse every day

Dear Prime Minister,

Sr Jane Keogh is still on Manus Island, suffering with the men there. This is what she wrote a few minutes ago on Facebook:

MANUS and Raja’s situation
WORSE EVERY NEW DAY
It’s just awful here for all the men. Today they were told they will all go to different camps on Manus, split from their friends. There will be no free movement from one camp to the other. The Tamil community looking after Raja are themselves bravely trying to face each day.
Australia is abandoning our friends to incompetents. PNG is not capable of dealing with the psychological and human rights tragedies that Australia has generated.
My colleague, Tim McKenna is a skilled negotiator and we’ve been trying to find a safe placing for Raja who is paranoid and afraid.
We asked to meet with Immigration officials and ABF secured agreement for this. Instead of facing us themselves Immigration organised for Tim and Raja to meet them on an oval and then sent only Raja’s case officer to speak with us.
We put 3 options:
1. Medivac Raja to Australia for approproate treatment until he recovers sufficiently to leave Australia to join his family. REJECTED
2. Allow Raja to do what he asks: go back to the camp where his community can support him and then move with them when they all move after 31 October. REJECTED
3. Go back to the Transit Centre but let a few of his community visit with him on a roster basis. He needs supervision 24/7. He cannot live independently, cook for himself, take his medication unsupervised, make the many phone calls to his family that are his lifeline at present. When stressed he cannot even call his friends.
This young man has just seen his close companion attempt suicide and later succeed and die. Before that another resident friend committed suicide. Raja is full of fear. Paranoia takes over at times of stress and he can’t tell reality from irrational imaginings.
This is a man who bears the very visible scars of extreme torture and went through one hell before he was sent by Australia to another hell. Four years were too long and he has broken. Will he be left to suffer here now until his breakdown is irrevocable?
SURVIVAL REJECTED
Well inhumanity may be the choice of the Australian government and the many citizens who just don’t want to know.
Inhumanity may be the choice of PNG Immigration.
As a believer that we are all called to love and truth, justice and compassion I need to express my own humanity in the face of such inhumanity.
And like many fine caring Aussies I will protest.
I go back to Canberra in a few days. I cannot go back to my normal life while Raja, whom I have come to know and love, suffers on Manus is denied treatment. I will work out the details of my protest over the next few days.I will take a stand in solidarity with Raja and all those deprived of human care on Manus.
Others will support Raja and his community here on Manus.My colleagues will change their current life plans and care for him here. We will keep Raja alive. He will know our love a each day. And we know our fellow caring Australians will help Raja with donations as we run out of our own funds.
Raja is not the only one in this position. And each and every man here has his own deep suffering and need.
I ask all who read this to please find your own way to protest this deliberate cruelty. Send phone credit to Gifts for Manus and Nauru. You can send money for medical support also here. Find on facebook the two appeals for funds for legal support for those denied fair process. I will send links in the next few days.
Send donations for Raja support to Manus Lives Matter- message me here or email janeikeogh@gmail.com for details.
But most critical of all
Talk to your friends and communities, your church leaders and politicians and spread the truth of what is happening.
Go to the rallies. The men here follow you on facebook and they see your care.
— Jane Keogh

I doubt you have the courage to read this. What could you say to Sr Keogh when she says

'Well inhumanity may be the choice of the Australian government and the many citizens who just don't want to know.
Inhumanity may be the choice of PNG Immigration. 
As a believer that we are all called to love and truth, justice and compassion I need to express my own humanity in the face of such inhumanity.
And like many fine caring Aussies I will protest.'?

I read, I weep. I reject your policy utterly. With my heart and soul I stand with the men on Manus and the men, women and children on Nauru and the struggle for their safety and freedom.

 

End offshore detention #435

Dear Prime Minister,

Another day of horrific psychiatric emergencies on Manus Island, enforced silence from Nauru, protests in Australia and Manus and damning reports from Human RIghts Watch and Amnesty,

Friday 6 October 2017. 67th day of peaceful protests. https://www.facebook.com/eyesonoffshore/photos/a.1907251372877799.1073741829.1804425649827039/1934531266816476/?type=3&theater

Friday 6 October 2017. 67th day of peaceful protests.
https://www.facebook.com/eyesonoffshore/photos/a.1907251372877799.1073741829.1804425649827039/1934531266816476/?type=3&theater

Australia's vindictiveness is seen over and over again. I beg you to stop the torture and suffering. Bring all men, women and children to safety and freedom.

Failure

Dear Prime Minister,

What is your response to the article titled 'Australia's refugee policy is a failure. This is not the time to shirk responsibility' by Thomas Albrecht, the UNHCR regional representative in Canberra?

In the article, Albrecht directly criticises Australia's policy to people arriving by boat as setting a 'destructive and dangerous precedent' and reminds us that 'Australia's obligation to people fleeing persecution, just as with any country in the world, is the same whether they arrive by air or sea. ... there is a false and disingenuous logic in saving people at sea, only to then mistreat them on land.'
'The consequences of open-ended mandatory detention, inadequate conditions and indefinite limbo, are devastating, yet predictable. For years now, UNHCR and others have highlighted the overwhelmingly negative toll on human lives, while the policy grinds on.'

Albrecht concludes:

The current policy has been an abject failure. A proper approach by Australia must include, at a minimum, solutions for all refugees and asylum seekers sent to Papua New Guinea and Nauru, and an end to offshore processing.

This is the time to share, not shirk, responsibility.
— https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/02/our-refugee-policy-is-a-failure-this-is-not-the-time-to-shirk-responsibility

This article is a direct challenge to Australia, by a representative of the highest authority on refugees, to immediately change Australia's policy and provide relief and care to those who are still suffering under it. Your response is needed urgently, Prime Minister.

Thank you Daniel Webb and the Human Rights Law Centre

Dear Prime Minister,

Thank you to Daniel Webb and the Human Rights Law Centre, and congratulations to them on their award.

This is what Daniel Webb said about his work on behalf of refugees:

'Fundamentally, it is about people.' - Daniel Webb.

How would you describe your motivation, Prime Minister, for the current offshore detention regime?

End the persecution of people who ask us for asylum.

Bring all men on Manus Island, and all men, women and children on Nauru to safety and freedom now.