PNG refugee resettlement failed

Dear Prime Minister,

On February 20 Papua New Guinean police raided the houses of 13 refugees who were supposedly being resettled in Port Moresby. They were arrested and forced back to Manus Island. PNG Immigration Minister, Petrus Thomas, told ABC News that 'refugee resettlement had failed.'

Yet Minister Dutton's department of Home Affairs maintains that refugees on Manus Island still have the option of settling in PNG. How is the Minister going to make that happen when PNG says no?

Cambodia not safe

Dear Prime Minister,

Both the PNG and Australian courts have found that Australia is responsible for the reugees detained on Manus Island and Nauru.

Australia, along with 44 other nations in the United Nations, has condemned Cambodia for "the recent serious decline of [its] civil and political rights."

Yet Foreign Minister Bishop confirms that your Government expects the refugees detained offshore to settle safely in Cambodia, and has paid Hun Sen's corrupt government $55 million to accept them.

How do you justify sending people who have fled oppression and danger to a country which violently oppresses its own citizens?

He is only ten years old

Dear Prime Minister,

I cannot believe I live in a country where a letter like this is necessary. Your Minister of Home Affairs tried to block life-saving tertiary psychiatric care for a ten-year-old child who has been suicidal since 2013. This is the second court case Minister Dutton's department has lost recently over the acute medical care urgently needed for children detained on Nauru.

The judge ruled that Australia “held a duty of care” to the boy and his family as the entity that had placed them on the island and which ran the offshore processing centre and the regime that held them.
— Ben Doherty, The Guardian Australia

This comes after Dr Nick Martin's damning revelations of how medical care for refugees is routinely blocked.

Every clinical decision that you made was being questioned by a non-medic. I had never had that in the forces. Your expertise and your autonomy was respected in the Royal Navy but in [Australia’s] border force you did absolutely feel there was a political influence on the clinical cases.
— Dr Nick Martin

I have previously written a number of letters to you about the dangerously inadequate healthcare for refugees on both Nauru and Manus Island. What action will you take to ensure all outstanding medical treatments are delivered immediately to the refugees?

Refoulement from PNG

Dear Prime Minister,

In the Parliamentary Research Paper, 'Australia's offshore processing of asylum seekers in Nauru and PNG: a quick guide to statistics and resources,' a table shows the number of departures each month from Nauru and PNG. For the period Jan 2014 - Jun 2015 it shows the destination countries of the returned asylum seekers. However from August 2015 onwards there is no information about the destination countries. Does Australia follow up the fate of each of the returnees? If they have been returned to danger then Australia has committed the international crime of refoulement.

Refugees in PNG report that a total of 6 men have been deported to danger in Bangladesh between 4th and 20th March 2018. Will they be recorded as 'destination unknown.' Were they stateless Rohingyas? What is their fate?

Arrested for complaint

Dear Prime Minister,

The refugees housed at West Haus, Lorengau, Manus Island have struggled since being forced there on 24 November 2017 with poor living conditions. Power and water cease working for days at a time. The water is too dirty to drink and causes skin inflammation. On 20 March one of the refugees made a complaint that

West has no mess for our meals, not enough living space, no toiletries, weekly allowance not enough for daily needs.
— https://t.me/ManusAlert/3611

Security had him arrested.

These men are Australia's responsibility. Bring them here.

Resettlement in PNG was never a viable option

Dear Prime Minister,

Watna Mori, PNG lawyer, says that resettlement of Manus Island refugees in Papua New Guinea (one of Minister Dutton's 3 options) was never viable. She cites the example of seven West Papuan refugees who Australia handed over to Papua New Guinea for resettlement support but were abandoned to their own resources. She says:

As is commonly the case in PNG, once the funding and heat behind the issue disappeared, so too did the ability to care. Australia, meanwhile, distanced itself from the men once they became PNG’s problem.
— Watna Mori

Bad enough for these 7 men, but they are Melanesian and have some connection to PNG culture and society. For the refugees on Manus Island, from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, they have no such connections. The so-called PNG resettlement program has been going for more than three years and is still a failure. Barriers to resettlement are insurmountable. The current contractor, JDA Wokman, is a job recruitment agency with no experience in refugee resettlement.

The New Zealand offer of resettling 150 refugees is still available. Many Australians are willing to offer community sponsored resettlement. Will your government look at these options so that all refugees on Manus Island can be freed from limbo and allowed to restart their lives?

Do you back Peter Dutton?

Dear Prime Minister,

Foreign Minister Bishop refused to back Minister Dutton's claims that white South African farmers need special visas to flee to Australia.

You were asked at the ASEAN Australia summit in Sydney if you backed Minister Dutton's position on white South African farmers and his use of the word 'civilised.'

You did not answer.

Meanwhile the refugees imprisoned by us on Manus and Nauru for nearly five years, look on.

 

White South African farmers

Dear Prime Minister,

Peter Dutton, anxious about losing his seat at the next election, wants to import some voters to shore up his numbers. It seems however that the white South African farmers are not interested. How much damage to Australian-South African relations has Peter Dutton done with his comments about South Africa being 'not civilised'?

Australia has been locking up legitimate refugees on Nauru and Manus Island for the better part of two decades, trying, absurdly, to resettle them in Cambodia and Papua New Guinea, and offering them cash bribes to return to the countries they fled. Not only would that brutal treatment never be dished out to white South African farmers, but we are now proactively trying to add them to our humanitarian intake.
Australia’s disgraceful record of politicising refugee issues has rarely been more brazenly displayed.
— https://thenewdaily.com.au/money/finance-news/2018/03/15/malcolm-fraser-south-african-white-farmers/

Sack Dutton now.

ABF head sacked

Dear Prime Minister,

After 11 months suspension (on full salary) Roman Quaedvlieg is sacked for making 'wilfully or recklessly false statements.'

After Priya's visa renewal didn't arrive in the mail on time, she, her husband and their two baby daughters were imprisoned by ABF within 5 HOURS of their deadline.

Where is justice?

Satire?

Dear Prime Minister.

Dutton went on to explain why it is so important to deport migrants the moment they show signs of struggling in their dealings with the bureaucracy that makes up the immigration department.
“This week, we opened up a job that was undeservedly given to someone who was unable to travel 1800 kilometres to Sydney and update his Visa in time. That’s one less working class family that doesn’t deserve to be living in Biloela, by birthright. If there are any other unorganised subcontintentals hiding in the 15,729 square kilometres that make up the Banana Shire … We will find you and we will send you back to the political unrest in which you desperately fled in search of a better life sweeping up cow guts.”
— Betoota Advocate

Young family in danger

Dear Prime Minister,

Yesterday I wrote to you about Nadesalingam, Priya and their baby daughters. 

They have lived in Biloela for four years – Nadesalingam is employed at the town’s meat works – and are well regarded in the close-knit community which has rallied to have them returned since they had been moved.
...
Despite having a valid court action under way, Border Force officials raided the family’s house at 5am the day after Priya’s visa expired.
— https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/mar/14/tamil-asylum-seeker-family-remains-in-australia-after-last-minute-reprieve

Two more children locked in detention by Minister Dutton's department. Hold him to account.

Australia's slave trade

Dear Prime Minister,

On 12 March the sixth group of refugees was flown from Nauru to the US: seven men. Of the 2000+ refugees in offshore detention, only 146 have been sent to the US. These few have a chance to restart their lives, despite isolation and the financial burden of having to repay their airfares. But as Ai Wei Wei says the refugee swap with the US is

a complete insult to the understanding of refugees. It’s exactly like slave trading. You cannot deal with human beings by violating their [rights].
— Ai Wei Wei

He goes on to say:

If it’s not solved, it’s simply because we don’t want to solve it, because we benefit from the situation. Other people’s suffering and desperation is beneficial, so if those questions are not being answered, we will never solve the problem.
— Ai Wei Wei

For the women of Nauru

Dear Prime Minister,

On March 8 Michele Feinberg wrote:

Today, March 8, is also International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate our achievements and hard won freedoms. When we say ‘leave no woman behind’. However, there are some women who are left behind. These are the women who our government has incarcerated for nearly five years on Nauru and in Immigration Detention in Australia. They include women who have suffered sexual and physical abuse while in our ‘care’. They include women who have given birth alone because our Government refused to allow their partners to attend the birth. They are women denied access to adequate medical care. They are women who are forced to live apart from their husbands or children. They include women denied timely and safe abortions. They are women whose health suffers because they still live in mouldy tents. They include women who have succumbed to self harm and mental illness because of our government has stolen their hope and their futures. Malcolm Turnbull pays lip service to the need to afford women safety and respect. Yet he affords this group of women neither safety nor respect. He affords them only danger, cruelty, neglect, suffering, and vilification. Ring Malcolm Turnbull (02 6277 7700) today and tell him that he has no right to partake of our celebrations while our sisters in Immigration Detention still suffer at his hands.
— Michele Feinberg
Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 9.45.16 am.png

To the person who opens and reads these letters at the PM's office: I imagine that not one of the letters I have written so far to the Prime Minister (591) has been seen by him. Please show him this one. If he won't look at it, ask yourself 'Do I want to be working for a system which allows this to happen? Should my income and career depend partly on women and children being locked up on Nauru?'

Refoulement

Dear Prime Minister,

Refoulement is a crime against humanity. Nine Bangladeshi men have been removed from Manus to Bomana jail in Port Moresby. Why are they being deported now?

Why has Australia ignored calls by UNHCR that 500 of the 2000 people detained by Australia on Manus and Nauru need a review of their refugee status? The imminent deportation of these nine Bangladeshi men, without proper judicial process, is refoulement. As Kate Schuetze of Amnesty International warns, the men must be given opportunity to appeal especially after being locked up for five years. They are Australia's responsibility.

A corrosive influence

But just saying over and over again that you respect human rights doesn’t make it true, not for the innocent human beings warehoused on Manus and Nauru for the last five years, or the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children being forced into prisons away from their families and communities at obscenely high rates.
All of the people suffering injustice right now in our community need action, not just words.”
...
“Victims of cruelty and injustice all over the world desperately need governments like ours to be part of the UN’s principled spine, not a corrosive influence gnawing away at the very foundations of human rights with their own hollow words and unprincipled actions.
— Daniel Webb, Human Rights Law Centre

Act by freeing all refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru

Human Rights pledge

Dear Prime Minister,

On 8 March 2018 Australia joined with nine other countries to make an Incoming Members' Pledge at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The pledge included the following:

'[to] engage in the work of this Council in a spirit of self-reflection with a view to improving our own human rights situation, recognising that no State has a perfect human rights record'

In the case of Australia's treatment of asylum seekers the UN has repeatedly reported and condemned Australia for continuing human rights abuses on Manus Island, PNG and Nauru. What will your Government do to meet the obligations of our pledge to the Human Rights Council?

Bring all refugees and asylum seekers to freedom and safety now.

We know

Dear Prime Minister,

Reneé Pettitt-Schipp is a poet and former teacher of English to asylum seekers on Christmas Island. She continues to use the power of her poetic language and her increasing audience to remind us, again and again, of what we have done and continue to do.

The Will of Water
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
- Rumi

out beyond the reef
beyond the horizon, beyond
the breakers
there is a space
that will break
that will break, that will
unmake you

out beyond the breakers
beyond borders, tankers, Customs
freighters
out beyond eyes
beyond sight and the light
of conscience

hear the timbre of strain
sing a low, sad song
this vessel was never meant
to contain such weight

out in the middle of
we will decide who comes
and in the thick of the circumstances
every fear of each imagined ending
will engulf you
for we are a land that will not
(a line that will not)
give

out where mothers
are grasping for children’s limbs
we are losing patience with pity, turn away
we will not witness, it will not stick
for we did not see
heard no screams
let me wash my hands
I know nothing
of the will of water

out beyond the ocean
and all its undoing
you had a dream. I will meet you there
for when each life is at last allowed its living
the world will be too full
to write about.
— Reneé Pettitt-Schipp

You cannot wash your hands clean of what you continue to do. We artists will see to it.

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

PNG not safe

Dear Prime Minister,

Minister Dutton says that refugees on Manus are free to resettle in Papua New Guinea. Refugees say PNG is not safe, including the PNG police force.

The recent finding by PNG National Court supports the refugees' claims. The state has been ordered to pay four citizens damages for human rights breaches by the police including violence, property damage and injuries.

Accept NZ's offer

Dear Prime Minister,

In your meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on March 2nd you once again turned down New Zealand's offer to resettle 150 refugees from offshore detention per year. You said that Australia will not consider NZ's offer until the US resettlement deal was completed.

Why? Is your strategy to make sure that some refugees will never leave Manus and Nauru?