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?

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?

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

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.

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?

Let them go

Dear Prime Minister,

Today's report from Refugee Action Coalition (Vic)

Today, local land owners blocked the road to East Lorengau Transit Centre in protest against ABF, IHMS, ICSA and JDA. One of the refugees who attempted to leave was threatened with a knife. 
All medical care, ability to buy medicine, buy food and all other services has been put on hold.
The ill will the Australian government has generated in PNG has a long history. The Australian man who helped murder Reza Berati and all other Australian personnel involved in the assaults and attacks on people over the 17th and 18th of February 2014 have never faced justice. The three Australian guards allegedly drugged and gang raped a local employee in June 2015 were spirited away despite the request of local police to interview them. Local employees were/are paid a fraction that Australian employees were/are paid. The reputation of Manus has been tarnished by Australia’s detention regime. Despite the ruling of PNG courts that detention was illegal, Australia maintained the fiction that it was PNG’s responsibility to close the detention centre while simultaneously controlling any chance of third country resettlement. 
The Australian government not only holds refugees in contempt, they hold smaller or poorer countries such as PNG and Nauru in contempt and have shown themselves prepared to actively corrupt, destabilise and interfere in the democracies of our nearest neighbours.
— Refugee Action Coalition (Vic)

Amnesty now for all asylum seekers and refugees detained on Nauru and Manus.

cruel, inhuman and degrading

Dear Prime Minister,

How is Dutton still Minister for Immigration after the poisonous drivel he unleashed on the 52 refugees who escaped his 'cruel, inhuman and degrading' regime?

'Economic refugee' is an oxymoron.

The vast waste of tax payers' money, including more than $1 billion unaccounted for, has brought nothing but disruption to the democracies and cultures of PNG and Nauru, ill-health, injury, mental illness and death to the detainees and anguish to their families, friends and advocates.

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

Rohingyan refugees forced back to Myanmar

Dear Prime Minister,

Why won't you hold Minister Dutton to account? 

Yesterday, when he was asked on ABC 7:30 Report if Rohingyan refugees were being forced to go back to Myanmar he "appeared to tire of the questions". He then tried to attack the ABC for not mentioning the US resettlement news despite it having been announced on the news bulletin including a quote from you.

He lies. He evades. He misuses his power. Australia's refoulement of refugees is the most serious breach of the UN Refugee Convention. We are responsible for the well-being of every asylum seeker and refugee held offshore. Sack Dutton. Give amnesty to all women, men and children on Manus Island and Nauru.

Endless injustice

Dear Prime Minister,

In the news today that Victorian supreme court justice Cameron Macaulay has approved the $70 million settlement to be paid to current and former Manus Island asylum seekers and refugees it has been revealed that Australian Border Force has ordered PNG immigration to prevent the beneficiaries on Manus Island from opening a bank account to receive their money.

On whose authority? For whose benefit? According to which Australian values?

Australia is responsible for Hamed Shamshiripour

Dear Prime Minister,

Why was Hamed Shamshiripour prevented from going home to Iran despite making at least four requests?
Why have his claims of death threats not been investigated?
Why hasn't there been a full inquest into his death?
Why did Australia not provide psychiatric care for Hamed Shamshiripour despite both the ABF chief medical officer and the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby receiving urgent requests from Mr Ronnie Knight, MP?
Which Australian official decided to prevent Hamed Shamshiripour's body from being returned to his family in Iran for burial? Is it, as they claim, to prevent them from taking legal action against Australia to try to find out what happened?

How does any of this comply with Australia's obligations under the UN Refugee Convention?

Australia's lies

Dear Prime Minister,

...This week, the Dutton claim was that refugee policy goals are “frustrated” by the Constitution is utterly wrong, in law and in fact. Under s51(xxvii), the Commonwealth is constitutionally authorised to make laws with regard to immigration. This is not complex. There is no ambiguity. A constitutional head of power for the Commonwealth to make laws on migration exists and laws on migration it makes.
One such law is the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). The current policy is that anybody who arrives in the migration zone by boat to seek asylum will never be re-settled in Australia. This monstrosity is codified into s5AA, which defines “unlawful maritime arrival” to include babies born in Australia to asylum seekers we have forcibly sent to offshore detention.
Ponder this: Australia is predominantly ruled by people descended from boat arrivals — people who not only found asylum but have prospered from untold riches derived directly from stolen land. These people systematically murdered descendants of the actual first fleets, which arrived 60,000 years ago and produced descendants like Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, who constantly boasts that this is the most successful multicultural nation on earth. White people presume to define what is “un-Australian” in the public debate and have defined at law who is un-Australian forever, based on their mode of arrival being by boat.
All are equal before the law. Refugees have legal rights. Murder is always wrong and thus mass murder is too. It is logically impossible to enter somebody else’s land and then slaughter them in self-defence. No, the free speech “right” of Andrew Bolt to disseminate harmful racist nonsense can not be reconciled with summary offences used to criminalise black people who say “fuck” near a police officer.
— Ingrid Matthews, Western Sydney University School of Law

Prime Minister, get out of this sewer of lies. Change the vile Immigration act which expressly demonises and punishes asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Give amnesty to all detainees on Manus Island and Nauru.

final departure Bridging E visa

Dear Prime Minister,

I asked in yesterday's letter what would Minister Dutton's next unspeakable act be: here it is, already. Detainees from Manus Island and Nauru, who are in limbo in Australia after being sent here for medical treatment, will have the paltry amount of financial support removed, given only three weeks to find accommodation and put on a 6-month visa.

'We want people to go [back] voluntarily' said Dutton.

By starving them and making them homeless? By sending women with babies back to where they were raped? By sending men back to a demolished prison and certain violence?

Here are some of the immediate responses:
Red Cross: 'humanitarian needs must come first'
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre: 'We are not going to let these people go back ... we're going to fight.'
The Hon Bill Shorten, MP: 'Your weakest move yet.'
The Greens: 'this unspeakable cruel act'
Law Council of Australia: 'nothing "un-Australian" about human rights'

What a squalid, depraved little paragraph of Australian history you are carving out for yourself.


Australia has no plan

Dear Prime Minister,

Papua New Guinea will not allow Australia to abandon the refugees detained on Manus Island by Australia. The PNG Attorney General says that the PNG government has not agreed to the closure of the detention centre on 31st October. PNG demands Australia find a safe, viable place for the men trapped there. Amir Taghinia said:

This proves that the Australian Government does not have any plan. They are just playing a game and people are very desperate. After 4 years, we just want a chance to build a life in safety.
— Amir Taghinia

What is your solution, Prime Minister?

Manus Crisis Alert

Dear Prime Minister,

Sr Jane Keogh is a Brigidine Sister from Canberra. She has worked with and for refugees in detention since 2002 and is coordinator of Manus Lives Matter. What is your response to this Crisis Alert from Sr Keogh?

MANUS CRISIS ALERT as I see it right now:
The situation on Manus for the refugees:
500+ men have kept calm for weeks now facing forced removal to life threatening situations.
Their calmness is striking given their fragile mental health in escalating stressful situations.
They now see more Australian Police joining and training PNG police “in case of a riot.”
The men believe their lives are in danger within the camp- from police coming to force removal.
They believe their lives are in danger outside the camp evidenced by almost daily attacks in town.
They are lucky the Australian police are there as they see PNG police as armed and dangerous.
They know once in town they will only have PNG police and thus no protection, only more danger.
They have proved and stated their commitment to peaceful protest and nonviolence.
The safest choice to an objective outsider would seem to be to resist being moved.
Many are worried about how to contain those among them who are most at risk of breaking.
They cannot guarantee their own safety.
The situation on Manus for Turnbull, Dutton and Border Force. Know you have a choice.
Option 1:
Leave the men there with facilities and with security and wait out the time when many will go to the US or be found alternative safe settlement. Call it a Transit Centre but provide for security and daily needs. Reopen the gym and medical services. No law says this cannot be done.
Option 2:
Force the removal. Create more stress and drive some men to breakdown and violence. Risk another death and severe injuries.
Traumatise all those who still are strong enough to remain peaceful.
Blame the men for the violence and get away with this temporarily.
Accept responsibility for the foreseeable outcome of the decision and rejection of available options.
Lose the dwindling support in Australia for offshore detention.
Face unending and hugely costly law suits into the future.

What is your decision? Safely resettle all the detainees on Manus Island? Or provoke violence and more deaths?

Australia's responsibility #380

Dear Prime Minister

Alison Battisson, Human Rights Lawyer, has said:

Saeed’s case is another example of an asylum seeker getting lost in an unfamiliar legal system. Australias’s system for hearing and reviewing protection claims is so complex that many find it impossible to navigate. All we ask is that the Minister hear Saeed’s full story
— Alison Battisson

Saeed's brother and other refugees from the same Iraqi minority group were granted asylum in Australia but , on a technicality, Saeed was not. Ms Battisson was working with Saeed to appeal his case directly to the Minister, as is Saeed's right. However, today she found out too late that 15 officers forcibly removed Saeed from Villawood detention centre and put him on a plane back to Iraq despite his extremely frail health.

This is the same racist system which keeps refugees tortured and imprisoned on remote islands, keeps tens of thousands of recognised refugees without work, welfare, health care or education in limbo in Australia, forces employees to betray their professional duty of care and costs inconceivably large amounts of money. Is Saeed's death the price of your Prime Ministership?

End offshore detention now. Manus and Nauru crisis.

Dear Prime Minister,

The Lorengau bus service has been cancelled because Wilson Security refused to go on the bus to town with us. They scared they will be attacked if they come with us. The canteen services also stopped since this morning as well. We don’t know what’s going on here. Please help us. Pray for us this situation is deteriorating.
— Voice from Manus
Resettlement in PNG is not a humane option. The US now looks out of reach. If the government forces us out of the camp and into more danger we will continue to protest peacefully, but no-one should be surprised if these weeks are punctuated by violence against refugees.
— Behrouz Boochani,

Punished for their patience and good will

Dear Prime Minister,

I can hardly bear to address these letters, you have so demeaned and corrupted the office of Prime Minister. However, I started these letters with the aim of writing one for every person held in offshore detention or until all detainees are free and safe and so I will continue, while the graphic violence and torture on Manus Island and Nauru get worse day after day.

The refugees on Nauru have written a statement which includes this question:

ABF [Australian Border Force], you say Nauru is responsible for us, but you make all of the decisions. For Nauru, we are a commodity in a ruined economy. Why do you want to punish us and hold us prisoners in a place where we are simply a means for people to earn an income, because their land was destroyed by your greed?

Why do you punish desperate people who asked us for help, Prime Minister? 

Standoff on Manus

Dear Prime Minister,

The standoff on Manus Island over the closure of Foxtrot Compound has come to a head this morning.
Police have shut the gates of Foxtrot to prevent any leaving or entering.
Around 10.15am this morning, police tried to enter Foxtrot.
But asylum seekers and refugees have peacefully blockaded the Foxtrot gate from the inside, so far preventing the police from entering.
“We are urgently calling on Malcolm Turnbull to end the standoff and withdraw the police. The police are being guided and supported by the Australian Border Force officers and the AFP,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“The leaked transcript of Turnbull’s conversation with Trump has definitively exposed Turnbull’s duplicity. There never was a deal that guaranteed refugees from Manus would be resettled in the US. And there is no resettlement deal with PNG. Turnbull’s deal was all about domestic political posturing. He lied about them being economic refugees.
“The fate of those unlawfully imprisoned on Manus is in Australia’s hands. Nothing can justify the attempt to forcibly close Foxtrot compound and to force refugees to move to East Lorengau. It’s time to end the farce on Manus and bring everyone to Australia.”
— Eyes on Offshore:

Australia's actions on Manus are monstrous. Bring all refugees in offshore detention to Australia now.

Your yellow tie was apt

Dear Prime Minister,

Today I took my protest directly to you at Albany. I saw you deliberately avert your eyes twice: as you left the ANZAC Centre and then later as you were driven away from the civic reception. This is what our banners say:

Refugees are Welcome
End Offshore Detention


4 years
7 Dead
169 Kids
$5 Billion
Manus Nauru

Lest We Forget. Manus. Nauru.

Lest We Forget. Manus. Nauru.

Prime Minister, I have written you 368 letters and today driven 100km to see you in person. Yet you were too cowardly to even look at us, let alone speak with us. The people we have locked up illegally on Manus Island and Nauru are in dire need after 4 years of torture. Today cleaning and rubbish services were stopped at Manus detention centre. Power and water have been cut off. The men there are in immediate danger, entirely caused by Australia. Bring them all to Australia now.