No family values

Dear Prime Minister,

While you claim credit for the Same Sex Marriage Bill, you continue to destroy the families of people imprisoned in offshore detention. All have siblings and parents who fear they may never see their loved ones again. Even worse, in an act of unbelievable cruelty by Minister Dutton, is the forced 'choice' that men on Nauru must make: to stay imprisoned on Nauru forever while their wives and children remain in Australia for medical treatment or to relinquish custody of their children and abandon their wives so as to take a chance of resettlement alone in USA.

Family unity is a fundamental principle of international and Australian domestic law. Australia is a party to the convention on the rights of the child, which states that children have a right to know and be cared for by their parents, and should grow up in a family environment wherever possible. It is also a party to the international covenant on civil and political rights, which says the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.
— https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/dec/07/peter-dutton-defends-nauru-policy-after-refugees-told-to-separate-from-family

End the torture. Bring all people detained on Manus Island and Nauru to safety and freedom now.

What freedom does

Dear Prime Minister,

Despite trying to survive in half built, over-crowded camps, with intermittent electricity, food and water and separated from their friends the men imprisoned on Manus Island still observe their peaceful protests. They use words, courage and persistence, never violence. Their demand is 'Freedom, only freedom.'

https://www.facebook.com/eyesonoffshore/photos/a.1907251372877799.1073741829.1804425649827039/1958291514440451/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/eyesonoffshore/photos/a.1907251372877799.1073741829.1804425649827039/1958291514440451/?type=3&theater

What will it take for you to give amnesty now and bring all on Manus and Nauru to freedom and safety?

Manus Island Timeline

21 November 2012
Manus Island reopened
Julia Gillard's Labor government reopens detention centre – not used since 2004 – and the first 19 asylum seekers arrive from Christmas island.

12 July 2013
Damning UN report
A UNHCR report finds every asylum seeker on Manus displays signs of anxiety and depression.

19 July 2013
'No chance of being settled in Australia'
New Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd announces people who seek asylum by boat will never be settled in Australia, with all sent to Manus or Nauru.

17 February 2014
Reza Barati dies
Three days of violence leaves 70 detainees seriously injured, with some shot by police, stabbed and with their throats slit. Iranian detainee Reza Barati is murdered after security guards inflict fatal head injuries during the riot.

5 September 2014
Hamid Kehazaei dies
Iranian Hamid Kehazaei dies after a delayed medical evacuation to Australia, as a treatable bacterial infection develops into septicaemia.

13 December 2015
Mass hunger strike
More than 500 men begin a two-week hunger strike in protest against conditions on the island. Two stitch their lips together, three swallow razor blades and collapsing strikers have to be forcibly removed by security.

21 July 2015
Healthcare failings revealed
A Guardian investigation reveals widespread failings in the healthcare services provided by IHMS in detention centres, including Manus Island.

27 August 2015
Rape allegation
A PNG woman employed by Transfield alleges she was raped by Australian colleagues inside the centre. The alleged perpetrators are flown out of the country.

26 April 2016
Supreme court rules Manus illegal
Papua New Guinea supreme court rules the detention centre is illegal and unconstitutional and must be closed.

17 August 2016
Manus to close
Australia confirms Manus detention centre will close but says none of the 854 men still there will be resettled in Australia.

24 December 2016
Faysal Ishak Ahmed dies
Sudanese refugee Faysal Ishak Ahmed dies after six months of suffering numerous blackouts, falls and seizures inside the detention centre.

15 May 2017
Services shut down
PNG immigration officials confirm the centre will close on 31 October, and tell detainees to 'consider their options'. Over the following months basic services are shut down around detainees, to encourage them to leave

14 June 2017
$70m compensation
The Australian government settles a class action, paying $70m compensation to more than 2,000 detainees for illegal detention and mistreatment, but denies any liability.

7 August 2017
Hamed Shamshiripour dies
Iranian asylum seeker Hamed Shamshiripour is found dead, having taken his own life. His friends say they pleaded with the Australian government to provide treatment for his mental health problems.

26 September 2017
First detainees flown to US
Twenty-five men leave Papua New Guinea for the US under a resettlement deal between Australia and the US. The total number to be transferred is still uncertain, with the US under no obligation to take a set amount.

2 October 2017
Sri Lankan refugee dies
A formally recognised refugee dies in Lorengau hospital.

23 October 2017
Detainees refuse to leave
A week before it's due to close, it’s revealed more than 600 detainees are refusing to leave the centre, citing fears for their safety in Lorengau.

 

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/nov/30/australias-offshore-detention-regime-is-a-brutal-and-obscene-piece-of-self-delusion

150 opportunities lost

Dear Prime Minister,

On Monday 4 December you had an opportunity to begin to repair your legacy and Australia's reputation when the Lower House voted in favour of accepting New Zealand's offer to resettle 150 refugees from offshore detention and negotiate for more.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/dec/04/turnbull-government-scrambles-after-losing-vote-on-new-zealand-refugee-offer

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/dec/04/turnbull-government-scrambles-after-losing-vote-on-new-zealand-refugee-offer

You chose to fail, again.

Silence and violence

Dear Prime Minister,

On Friday December 1, one week after the violent clearing of the Manus Island RPC by PNG officials under the instruction of Australian Border Force employees, Behrouz Boochani wrote and account titled 'There was our silence and their violence as Manus camp was evacuated.' His account is substantiated by numerous photos and videos taken by the refugees during their ordeal. 

After the former RPC was destroyed and the men were forced into the already overcrowded East Lorengau Transit Centre, or the muddy building sites of West Haus and Hillside, or left abandoned on a roadside, Behrouz Boochani continued to witness and report on the conditions in these camps:

I visited a man, semi-naked and with bare feet, sitting in the dirt. His face was bloody. I spoke with him, but he was completely silent. Others told me that police had beaten him, he had lost his personal belongings, and they killed his dog that had been living with him. Witnessing this man’s story was too much to bear.
— Behrouz Boochani

Yet your government proclaimed this was a 'voluntary and peaceful transfer.' This violent event will forever be associated with your Prime Ministership. Now is the time to fix your reputation and give an immediate amnesty to all offshore detainees.

Dehumanising

Dear Prime Minister,

Why have the refugees on Manus Island had their previous IDs removed and replaced by a number? How can this be for any purpose except to attempt to further strip them of their humanity?

What is more dehumanising than living as a 6-character boat ID for over 4 years? That ID being replaced with a NEW number!!

What is more dehumanising than living as a 6-character boat ID for over 4 years? That ID being replaced with a NEW number!!

End offshore detention and evacuate all refugees to freedom and safety now.

Lies

Dear Prime Minister,

When will you stop Minister Dutton's lies? He said the 'alternative accommodation' at West Haus and Hillside were complete except for a bit of tiling. Tim Costello, the UN and other eyewitnesses showed two building sites. The refugees have documented the shoddy construction and use of old and broken materials.

Minister Dutton said that all refugees have access to health care. Yet IHMS has refused to provide services and medications and MSF was refused access to the refugees.

On these two points alone, about the accommodation and health care, Minister Dutton is either totally incompetent or he is lying. Sack him. Amnesty now for all refugees in offshore detention.

 

Where is your reply

Dear Prime Minister,

This is the 490th letter I have written to you. Every day, increasing numbers of people read these letters, which I publish on my blog. You will be hearing from some of them too.

Today I am writing about three of the many incidents that have occurred in PNG in the last 24 hours.

  1. Refoulement of two Pakistani refugees.
  2. Blockade of ELTC by locals.
  3. Preventing injured refugees from getting medical care

Evacuate all refugees from Manus and Nauru now and give them their freedom and safety.

Yet we persist

Dear Prime Minister,

Every day, new disruptions and outrages occur towards the refugees in offshore detention. Every day we advocates ring politicians, write letters, organise protests. Police in riot gear don't deter us. Plainclothes police turning up unannounced at our homes don't deter us. We are committed to continue until every last refugee and asylum seeker in offshore detention is safe and free.

A significant number of us will stay on this job until Minister Dutton, Department Chief Pezzullo and others are in the dock at the International Criminal Court, until a Royal Commission into Detention of Asylum Seekers is held and until the concept of offshore detentions is so horrific to Australians that it will never be contemplated again.

You have the power to prolong the agony or to speedily resolve it. I urge you to give amnesty now to all men, women and children detained by Australia in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. End the torture. Give them their freedom.

United, peaceful, protesting

Dear Prime Minister,

Today I am writing to you on behalf of the 488th man detained on Manus Island. Last week he was one of the men who was beaten with metal rods, threatened with weapons including a knife and a meat cleaver and forced to move to a partially built 'facility' which provides neither protection nor freedom. His belongings were destroyed. He saw the pet dog of his friend killed. This man and his fellow refugee prisoners, despite all they endured last Thursday and Friday, on top of four and a half years of torture and suffering have re-established their peaceful protests. And despite more than 70 of their mobile phones being destroyed or stolen they are still able to communicate with the outside world.

Day 118 peaceful protest, Manus Island

Day 118 peaceful protest, Manus Island

The sign they hold reads:

'Dutton Rules: Don't Kill Them. If kill them you stop their pain. Keep them in torture'

How will you resolve this, Prime Minister? 

Australia blocks Médecins Sans Frontières

Dear Prime Minister,

MSF (Doctors without Borders) have repeatedly reported that they have been refused access to the Manus island compounds where the refugees need urgent medical treatment. Even in war zones medical aid must be allowed. These men have long term health problems from years of imprisonment and lack of medical care, compounded by three weeks of starvation and dehydration and then were beaten, kicked and forcibly moved last Thursday and Friday. It is appalling that MSF even needs to be on Manus, but to block their access to the men is outrageous. 

Whatever bizarre political game you are engrossed in, Prime Minister, in the bubble of Canberra it must end now. The majority of Australians who have struggled to comprehend what is being done in our name are now becoming aware and active. Thousands turned out in rallies all around Australia over the weekend. We have seen eye-witness reports from GetUp, Tim Costello, and Pastor Jarrod McKenna in the last week, who have exposed the lies you, Minister Bishop and Minister Dutton tell.

Today's protest by Christian activists who chained themselves to the locked gate of Kirribilli House have brought thousands more concerned citizens to action. And most importantly of all, the ill, starved and beaten men on Manus continue to hold their peaceful protests. They demand freedom. Give them freedom now. And free them and Australia from this nightmare.

Where is humanity

Dear Prime Minister,

Today I attended a vigil in Albany. There we read the words of Walid Zazai and Behrouz Boochani, two of the men who have been detained without end-date since mid 2013, tortured, injured and just in the last few days had their few possessions destroyed and were forcibly separated from their friends and forced into insecure, unfinished prisons. Behrouz Boochani's words are an astounding call to humanity and love:

I’m writing from Manus Island. It’s not the first time that I am talking with you people in Australia. We in Manus are aware that so many Australian people have protested in Australia in the past four years. First I would like to give my deepest thanks for standing up for humanity. It’s so valuable for the Australian community and for us in Manus and Nauru that there are still so many people who care about humanity and who are fighting for justice. As you know we held a peaceful protest in Manus for more than three weeks in a situation where we were deprived of access to food, water, and medicine. I would like to emphasise again that we could never resist peacefully without you people in Australia and I appreciate you once again. We decided to resist on our own, but your support gave us faith that there are still people who care, and who are willing to stand up for justice. Our resistance was completely peaceful in a situation where we were under so much pressure and the threat of violence. Our resistance was completely democratic because so many people with different nationalities, religions and cultures were resisting peacefully together. Every day we had a public meeting inside the prison camp and we shared our ideas together. Every day in the public meeting we emphasised this key concept: that we should care about each other, we should care about the people who are sick, we should respect each other and we should show the people around the world that we are peaceful, respectful and caring people. We even decided that despite our limited food we must feed the dogs who were living with us. We did all of these things in a situation where we were living with very little food and water. Our resistance had a broader purpose. It was to be a model and present a new way for humanity. We wanted to show how humans have this capacity to be kind and peaceful and care about humanity even in a harsh situation. During the resistance we were following your protests in Australia and we became stronger and more determined in our decision to embrace kindness because we could see that people were hearing our voice, and that people are willing to care and fight for humanity in Australia. We could feel you with us and it’s so beautiful to share in our humanity in this way. In the end of our resistance the Australian government and PNG government decided to attack us by force and beat so many of the refugees to force them out. It was a defeat for them because they could not see how we were resisting peacefully for all humanity. It shows that they could not endure that people in Australia and around the world are hearing our voice. They attacked humanity and tried to humiliate humanity, but in fact they humiliated themselves and showed they cannot accept people being together and loving each other. They even killed one of the beautiful dogs that was living with us. That was so cruel and unacceptable. I would like to say that sending people from a prison to another prison camp is not a solution, and we people should continue to fight together in a peaceful way to get freedom for all of the refugees.
I would like to emphasise that we people in Manus love you and deeply respect you people in Australia. But we are strongly saying that Peter Dutton is using propaganda to say our only desire is to come to australia. Our only desire is freedom and safety in any safe country. We are not safe or free now, especially with the Australian Government authorising force to be used against us. Please, let us go.
We people in Manus, Nauru and Australia are strong together, we are able to create change, we are able to create freedom while we are together.
— Behrouz Boochani, 26/11/2017

Your government is defeated. Evacuate all refugees and people seeking asylum from offshore detention now.

An accounting

Dear Prime Minister,

Sister Irene Keogh, who was on Manus recently and is in regular contact with refugees imprisoned there, has summarised the outcome of the horror on Manus as follows:

1 Dead- pet dog, Foxy thrown out of the bus window by an official
240 traumatised, bruised, non violent protester heroes
12 hours while 57 men went without food or water and sat hours on the road unattended and waiting for someone to find them accommodation
57 men who slept on the floor in a class/prayer room without sheets or matresses last night and next day still waiting outside for accommodation
8 (only) smelly toilets for the 190 approx men at West Camp 50%(early estimate) of hours when the water is on and the toilets actually flush at West Camp
70% (early estimate) availability of electricity for some of the men in some of the cells, 0% in other cells.
0 doors on the 8 showers to be shared by 190 men
0 fences at West Camp that might provide security
20 (early estimate) quality mobile phones paid for mostly by Aussi supporters and stolen by police
$60,000 (estimate) of destroyed personal property, from food,shoes, clothes, electrics, computers,books, often paid for by Aussi supporters, base on average of $250 per person
100% non violent action by the 240 men
100% violent abuse delivered by the Police and Immigration
0 (so far, I’m still searching) men who were not hit with metal rods and had their belongings destroyed
— Sister Irene Keogh

What will you do to immediately bring the refugees on Manus to safety and freedom?

Black Thursday

Dear Prime Minister,

It is several days since I last wrote. The futility of appealing to your humanity, sense, fiscal responsibility or international reputation is overwhelming. On Wednesday 22 November 2017 I asked 'Do you intend to allow the Manus refugees to die?' I found out the answer on Thursday, when operation 'Helpim Friends' perpetrated violence and fear on the men and forcibly removed 50 refugees to the unfinished buildings in Lorengau. Food and personal belongings were destroyed.

How many Australian officials were involved in directing 'Helpim Friends'? Who authorised the use of weapons, which included metal bars and knives?

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/manus-island-men-moved-by-force-as-police-storm-centre-again/news-story/64eee6f567b9bb696ea85d6498e055bd

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/manus-island-men-moved-by-force-as-police-storm-centre-again/news-story/64eee6f567b9bb696ea85d6498e055bd

Fascism vs. dignity

Dear Prime Minister,

Behrouz Boochani is still writing after 21 days in the blockaded Manus detention centre:

Manus crisis is the product of a new manifestation of fascism. It's a mirror to the state of humanity; respect for human values is in crisis. Our resistance & struggle with starvation & thirst aren't only for refugees; they're a moral warning to those ppl in Aust. and the world who have brutalized us. Our resistance is built on dignity and genuine respect for difference. We are many different individuals, ethnicities and beliefs all resisting together. Our integrity is power; our moral stance is staring down fascism.

How far will you go? You've fled Canberra already. Where to now? Dead in your bunker, shot by your own hand? Hanged upside down and left in public?

Behrouz Boochani shows you how: by genuine respect for difference, by respect for human values. Which do you choose?

Critical situation

Dear Prime Minister,

Today Ben Doherty published an article in The Guardian with the headline & sub-heading:

'The Situation is Critical: cholera fears on Manus as water and medicine run out. After the wells were poisoned, many of the 400 refugees living in Australia's former detention centre face life-threatening illnesses'

We could be in the 19th and 20th centuries when white 'settlers' poisoned water holes of Aboriginal land owners.

Prime Minister, are you taking special care to not know about our atrocities on Manus and Nauru? When justice is eventually served will you plead ignorance? This 480th letter from me is one of the many hundreds of phone calls, letters and emails, reports, recommendations, condemnations from refugees, citizens, agencies, and international organisations. End the torture. Restore justice and humanity. Freedom now for all the men, women and children detained in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.