Violence on Manus

Dear Prime Minister,

Manus Island has never been safe for the refugees. Yesterday, 16th February, there have been three separate violent incidents towards refugees. 

The first happened at the market in Lorengau as a refugee was walking in the rain:

Pakistani refugee Mumtaz Ali said a man ran up behind him.
”I thought that he wanted to share my umbrella with me,” he said.
”When I turned my face to him, he directly punched me on my face, on my right eye, right-side eye, then I fall on the ground and he started kicking me.”
Black eye after attack in Lorengau.

Black eye after attack in Lorengau.

In the second attack, refugees walking to hospital were accosted. Three locals tried to steal their mobiles. Refugees pushed them away twice. The locals tried again to attack them, a car arrived and the men were able to escape.

The third attack appears to have been organised by Australia. There is video evidence of the attack:

Ten PNG soldiers from Lombrum Naval Base attacked three refugees today. Two are seriously injured, one had his face bashed by the soldiers.
Local witnesses say that the naval personnel, who were not in uniform, were very drunk and were drinking from boxes of beer.
When local people stepped in to stop the attacks, the PNG soldiers told them that Australia had sent them to control the refugees in Lorengau Town.

Which Australian ordered the PNG navy personnel to attack the refugees?

Why hasn't anyone been charged?

Why haven't the refugees' written complaints been addressed?

Strategic cruelty or incompetence?

Dear Prime Minister,

Is it Australian Government policy to withhold weekly allowances and phone cards from some of the Manus refugees currently in Port Moresby? Radio NZ reports that the refugees at Granville Hotel, who are waiting for medical treatment, have not received phone cards since Paladin Solutions took over the hotel's security. Refugees at two other hotels in Port Moresby, however, are still getting phone cards. 

It is vital that refugees can stay in contact with their families. Phone cards are a necessity. Yet again this shows the inhumanity of Australia's treatment of refugees. Bring all detained on Manus and Nauru to safety and freedom now.

Drip drip drip

Dear Prime Minister,

Could the process of transferring refugees from Manus to Nauru go any slower?

22 of the more than 1000 refugees on Nauru left for the US this weekend. Daniel Webb says:

The tragic reality is that hope for a handful doesn’t end the suffering of those left behind. It’s great that these 22 people will tomorrow wake up in freedom and safety. But over 1800 others will awake to the same painful limbo that has confronted them every morning for the last four and a half years.
This dark chapter in our history does not close - this painful chapter in their lives does not end - until every single man, woman and child tormented on Nauru and Manus for the last four years is finally safe. Over 1800 innocent people - 150 children - have had four and a half years of their lives ripped away from them. It is the Australian Government’s responsibility to ensure they have a future.
— Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre

There must be an urgent solution to bring freedom and safety to the 742 men on Manus and the 1048 men, women and children on Nauru. Evacuate Now.

Demolition doesn't erase crime

Dear Prime Minister,

Behrouz Boochani reports:

The old prison camp that was closed on 23 Nov has been completely demolished. Some bulldozers are working there and have completely destroyed Mike, Delta, Oscar and Foxtrot compounds. There are only a few places that remain - P block which was built in the Second World War and was used to accommodate about 130 refugees for a year in 2013-14; and a few rooms in Foxtrot where the Sri Lankan refugees were living. Also some of the fences around Foxtrot are still standing but they are being demolished too. These parts of Manus prison that are being destroyed were officially known as “RPC1.” They are an important part of history and it’s unacceptable that they are being demolished because they should not be forgotten. There are many places on Manus with important heritage, like damaged ships from the Second World War, that the government is protecting. But they demolished Manus prison because they are also a part of it and don’t want the evidence to remain as part of the island’s history. You cannot wipe this history clean by destroying Manus prison camp.
— Behrouz Boochani

Suicidal child

Dear Prime Minister,

It has taken a Federal Court order to force the Commonwealth to save the life of a young girl. Health professionals, aid agencies, humanitarian organisations, advocates and refugees have struggled for years to get proper healthcare for the children on Nauru. Apparently Minister Dutton does not care if a child commits suicide.

Judge Bernard Murphy said:

The injury or damage the applicant may suffer if an injunction is refused — death or a further serious deterioration in her health — carries far more weight in the balance than the wasted expenditure the Commonwealth may suffer if an injunction is granted.

Sack Minister Dutton. End offshore detention. Bring all asylum seekers to freedom and safety now.

Allowances withheld from refugees

Dear Prime Minister,

The PNG ICSA and Australian Border Forces are now using a new tactic to provoke and make the guys lose their temper by discrimination.
What they are doing is, giving some facilities to some guys and not for the rest. For example last week some refugees been paid 500 kina allowance of COPP program, which they used to participate in COPP in Lombrum camp.
Some refugees have not been paid the allowance of 500 kina although they have participated in the program. They are eligible to be paid the 500 kina allowance.
Refugees are already suffering with trauma stress and this issue really deteriorating their mental health. The intention of management is to cause conflict, to make the refugees lose their tempers and to weaken them.

Is it Australia's strategy to try to provoke violence among the refugees by withholding the allowance of some? Or is it Australia's incompetence?

Truth about Manus accommodation

Dear Prime Minister,

On Dec 7 2017 the Senate endorsed an Order for the Production of Documents related to health, safety and building construction provided by contractors at West Haus Lorengau, PNG. Senator Stirling Griff, who made the order, has been concerned by the disparity between your Government's claims that the West Haus accommodation was complete and mounting evidence to the contrary from refugees, locals and visitors such as UNHCR and Tim Costello.

But your Government responded by saying it would provide none of the documents because it could damage its relationship with PNG. Senator Griff is right. It is urgent that we know the truth about conditions and services for refugees on Manus. Secrecy damages PNG and damages the refugees and Australia.

Mould and the Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

Again I ask you to reconsider your support of Minister Dutton. Today's example of mismanagement, cover-ups and endangering the health of Australians and refugees comes from Nauru. SBS News reports that the Australian constructed buildings at RPC1 on Nauru were riddled with mould and 'rotting from the inside out.' Staff who slept there suffered health problems including cognitive and neurological symptoms, chronic pain, chest infections and persistent coughs. 'Authorities at the centre' blamed these health issues on dust from passing trucks. The floor rotted through yet in a 2015 meeting between DIBP and the construction firm Canstruct the blame was laid on the RPC1 staff's 'heavy foot traffic.' A leaked email from Canstruct said their staff who knew about the extent of the mould problem were gagged.

Who authorised the original shoddy building? Who covered up the problem and delayed repairs? How much will Minister Dutton's department spend on another out-of-court settlement with the Australian employees when they sue for damages?

Sack Minister Dutton

Dear Prime Minister,

Why have you not sacked Minister Dutton yet? He has repeatedly been shown to be a liar. His department has mis-handled contracts and not accounted for billions of dollars of spending. Senior positions, such as the ABF Chief Medical Officer, are vacant. The head of the ABF, Roman Quaedvleig, has been on paid leave for undisclosed misdemeanours for 8 months.

Judging by the media statements on the Minister of Home Affairs website, he can't even employ people to write grammatically correct, coherent press statements. In a media statement dated 31.10.2017 it says:

'The constant claims of IMAs [sic] and advocates' [sic] about their situation [whose situation? The advocates'?] in Manus are nothing more than subterfuge.'

This is another lie. Most recently Amnesty International are one of the numerous agencies and individuals to disagree:

'The PNG authorities have previously failed to protect the refugees from violent attacks or hold perpetrators accountable for violence. No one has faced charges following an incident in April 2017 when the military fired shots directly into the refugee camp, endangering people’s lives. Other complaints of violence have not been independently investigated by the authorities or resulted in accountability, fuelling a culture of impunity.'

Sack Minister Dutton. And follow the urgent recommendation by Kate Schuetze of Amnesty International that 'Australia should bring the refugees to its shores, accept a New Zealand offer to take on 150 of the men and look for additional resettlement options.'

Ill Newborn

Dear Prime Minister,

On 28th January I wrote to you about baby Melvin, born on Nauru 3 weeks earlier and gravely ill. He and his mother were sent 'home' to their camp on Nauru. However the baby is still unwell, His navel is still bleeding, he cries from pain and does not sleep. His mother cannot get medication to treat him, not even antiseptic ointment to prevent another infection.

How does withholding medical treatment from a newborn benefit Australia's security?

All We Can't See

Dear Prime Minister,

We remember the Nauru files. The exhibition 'All We Can't See' is on in Sydney at the Yellow House Gallery until Feb 10th.

Step Repeat II, 2017. Acrylic, ink and gouache on board. Artist: Mark Whalen

Step Repeat II, 2017. Acrylic, ink and gouache on board. Artist: Mark Whalen

27 September 2014 | Risk rating: Information | Type of incident: Complaint |

“...when an asylum seeker slashed his neck, other rushed to his aid. They were stopped by Wilsons guards who stood in a circle around the hurt asylum seeker. They then started to tease the asylum seekers about their desire to go to Australia, and told them ‘you will never be let out of here’.”

Where art leads, politics follows.

If you don't change you will lose

Dear Prime Minister,

Papua New Guinea ICSA (Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority) have issued a document titled 'Positive Deportation Risk Assessment' to the asylum seekers who have not been given refugee status (for a variety of reasons that are flawed). It clearly lays out the Catch-22 that the asylum seekers on PNG face:

  • we say that you are not a refugee;
  • you must return to your country;
  • we find that you are at real risk of 'torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary deprivation of life or the imposition of the death penalty';
  • we say that you cannot stay in PNG;
  • we want you to go home voluntarily (but see above);
  • we say that you cannot have your refugee status reassessed.
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 2.59.02 pm.png

At least PNG does not pretend that it is safe for the men to return, unlike Australia.

There is one sentence in this statement that is wrong:

'You will never be permitted to go to Australia - neither the Government of PNG nor Australia will change their policies about this.'

Yet this policy will be changed in Australia. The majority of Australians want the refugees on Manus and Nauru to be brought to Australia. Your government goes to the polls in the next 15 months or so. This will be a key issue. It will bring your Government down unless you change this policy. Thousands of citizens will see to it.

Bring all refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention to Australia now.

15 sick men forced back to camp

Dear Prime Minister,

Fifteen sick men were forcibly returned to Manus from Granville Lodge, Port Moresby [2 Feb].
Armed police and PNG Immigration officers forcibly removed 15 sick men from the Granville Lodge accommodation in Port Moresby about 3 am this morning. They took them back to West Haus and Hillside Haus, in Lorengau, Manus Island.
The group included 8 refugees and 7 asylum seekers. After waiting months in Port Moresby, many have received little or no medical treatment. Many have not finished their medical treatment, for some, their medical treatment had not commenced.
Many men who have been waiting for medical treatment since arriving in Port Moresby since August 2017 have not been given medical appointments yet.
IHMS has been the contracted medical services supplier to men taken against their will Manus Island. IHMS contract expires this month. There seems to be no other contractor now employed to provide those services.
Manus Island’s medical services are insufficient for the local population. Manus Island does not have the facilities to treat the sick men detained on Manus Island.

This is completely unacceptable. Withholding medical treatment from detainees is torture. End it now. Bring all detainees on Manus and Nauru to safety and freedom now.

On behalf of the 553rd man on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

After nearly five years Australia has provided no viable or sustainable option for the refugees it forcibly transferred to Papua New Guinea.

Amnesty now for all men, women and children detained by Australia on Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Bring them all to freedom and safety now.

Corruption on Nauru

Dear Prime Minister,

Radio NZ reports that the refugees detained on Nauru have had some of their meagre services taken away. Host International, who provides services for the refugees, has had to divert funds away from refugees to help pay for the lavish celebrations of Nauru's 50 years of independence. Most of the funds are spent on the Nauruan elite.

Where is the accountability? How much of the money Australia spends on Nauru goes to the refugees? How much goes to the Nauruan citizens? How much goes to Baron Waqa and the elite?