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?

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.

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

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

Governor General Cosgrove made to be a hypocrite

Dear Prime Minister,

 Australia's punitive, repressive policy towards refugees is revealed yet again. At the UN, Governor General Cosgrove said

We have a duty to promote the rights of the most vulnerable, oppressed, discriminated communities, and to seek universality of human rights to all parts of our world.
— Governor General Peter Cosgrove

Yet Australia promotes its hardline policies of boat turn-backs on international waters, mandatory and indefinite detention and offshore 'processing.' Australia leads the world in exploiting and abusing asylum seekers by its policies of deterrence and punishment. We cannot pretend to uphold human rights. We deserve to be criticised and held to account.

No increased risk of boat people in NZ

Dear Prime Minister,

Your government's stance forbidding New Zealand from saving refugees from Manus and Nauru is indefensible. Minister Dutton, with his usual deliberately inaccurate innuendo, waffles about 'chatter' and 'incentives' to people smugglers. New Zealand's head of Immigration disagrees. He is in no doubt about the scale of people smuggling but says, categorically, that 'there has been no increase in the risk of people smugglers making trips [to NZ]'. If Australia had accepted NZ's offer of taking 150 refugees per year most of the men from Manus would be safe and free by now.

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

Free the children

Dear Prime Minister,

We need to remind everyone – especially the politicians — about the plight of the children and families on Nauru. Mandatory detention is a denial of fundamental human rights.

We need to strongly reinforce the message that there are over 150 children detained on Nauru – not behind barbed wire, but they are still there, detained, robbed of their childhood and being used as political pawns. Here is a breakdown of the numbers of children in the 6 camps, as of October 25, 2017:

OPC 3 Camp – 52 children
EWA Camp – 22 children, aged from 2 to 18 years
Nibok Camp – 20 children, aged from 1 to 15 years
Anibare Camp – 3 children, aged 7 months, 2 years, 12 years
Ejoo Camp – 12 children including four 2 year-olds
Anijo Camp – approx. 51 children, aged 6 months to 18 years.

More than 150 children on Nauru. Nauru has become an island prison.
— Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children, Ballarat and Bendigo

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.

Just as dead

Dear Prime Minister,

Stopping refugee boats arriving is not a self-evident good. It might stop people drowning inconveniently in view of Australians at Christmas Island. But if they do not get on a boat and are, instead, killed by the Taliban they are just as dead as if they drowned. The real difference is that our conscience is not troubled by their un-noted death somewhere else.
— Julian Burnside

Australia's policy towards boat arrivals is a sham, is illegal, is immoral, is exorbitant and is lethal. Bring all detainees on Manus and Nauru to safety and freedom now.

Existing laundry services will cease

Dear Prime Minister,

Yesterday during the 42nd day of peaceful protest by the refugees detained at Manus Island RPC their placards included:

"Mr Dutton: killing innocent people is not a victory"
"No more hostages"
"Australia. Responsible for us"

'Today marks 1513 days of detention for the innocent human beings held in our illegal, degrading and dangerous offshore camps on Manus and Nauru.' - Michele Feinberg with Naeem Bangash

'Today marks 1513 days of detention for the innocent human beings held in our illegal, degrading and dangerous offshore camps on Manus and Nauru.' - Michele Feinberg with Naeem Bangash

On the same day the refugees were issued with yet another announcement of removal of services, despite the centre officially running until 31 October. 

No power. No water. No hot food. No laundry.

No power. No water. No hot food. No laundry.

End the torture. Bring all asylum seekers and refugees to safety and freedom now.

Where are the Human Rights?

Dear Prime Minister,

How can Australia produce a 'final departure bridging visa' when we are attempting to be elected to the UN's Human Rights Council? The 'bridging visa' has already put 63 people at risk of homelessness and destitution unless they can find support from charities or State Governments. A further 400 people, all in Australia for medical treatment due to injuries or illnesses sustained in detention on Manus Island and Nauru and including 100 children, are terrified that they will also be issued with the new visa.

'Excoriating' reports are currently being made to three UN special rapporteurs: on the right to adequate housing, on extreme poverty and human rights, and on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. How can Australia make any claim to upholding human rights?

Fifth reply from DIBP

Dear Ms Halbert

Thank you for your correspondence of 31 July 2017 to the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, concerning the closure of the Manus Regional Processing Centre (RPC); and the Australian Government's regional processing and settlement arrangements. Your correspondence has been referred to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection as the matters raised fall within his portfolio responsibilities. The Minister appreciates the time you have taken to bring these matters to his attention and has asked that I reply on his behalf.

Papua New Guinea (PNG), with Australia's support, will close the Manus RPC by 31 October 2017. After this date, Australia will not have an ongoing role in regional processing arrangements in PNG.

RPC residents are aware that the RPC will close by 31 October 2017 and the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority (ICSA) is providing them with information about their options.

ICSA has been clear with refugee residents that they have other accommodation options available, such as:

  • temporarily relocating to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre or to accommodation in the PNG community;
  • settling permanently in PNG;
  • returning home voluntarily with reintegration assistance; or
  • moving to a third country they have the right to reside in.

Non-refugee residents should return home voluntarily with reintegration assistance or they will be involuntarily removed from PNG by the Government of PNG, without any reintegration assistance.

Closure of the Manus RPC is a significant step towards resolving the regional processing caseload. However, closure of the Manus RPC is not the end of regional processing arrangements. In cooperation with the Government of Nauru, Australia will retain an enduring regional processing capacity in Nauru. Australia will continue to intercept and turn back any people smuggling boats that attempt to reach Australia. Closure of the Manus RPC does not weaken Australia's borders and the Australian Government's border protection policies are here to stay.

The Government remains committed to regional processing and resettlement and stopping the scourge of people smugglers and deaths at sea.

Thank you for bringing your views to the Government's attention.

Yours sincerely

&& (incomprehensible signature)

Director ABF Ministerial Correspondence Section Support Group - Australian Border Force
29 August 2017

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 responsibility

Dear Prime Minister,

Australia is responsible for what happens to the refugees on Manus Island. Why was Hamed Shamshiripour beaten up by guards at Manus RPC when he needed support for his severe mental health problems? Why was he left to die even after his friends gave warnings about his mental condition and made formal complaints to Broadsprectrum at Manus RPC about his beating? Who in DIBP failed to act? Why is the Minister of Immigration and Border Protection not taking responsibility for what happens on Manus Island?

Bring all refugees in offshore detention to Australia now. End Australia's shame.

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.

Peaceful protest on Manus

Dear Prime Minister,

Hundreds of refugees are protesting peacefully in Manus prison camp. This protest is completely peaceful and we refugees are asking Australia and PNG to stop pressuring us to leave the prison camp and accept settlement in PNG. I’m sure the local Manusian people are supporting this protest because they do not agree with this cruel policy. During the past week Immigration cut the power and water in Foxtrot compound which is the largest compound in Manus. At the same time, several refugees have been attacked when they have gone outside the camp into the Manus community. We are not safe outside the fences, and Immigration are trying to make like impossible for us inside. We are protesting peacefully for our human rights, and to call on Australia to uphold its commitments to offer us protection as refugees. The Australian government must provide us with resettlement in a safe country.
— Behrouz Boochani
Protest at Manus RPC, August 1 2017. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

Protest at Manus RPC, August 1 2017. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

When will you answer Behrouz Boochani, the refugees Australia has forcibly detained on Manus and the people of Manus Island? When will Australia uphold its commitments to refugees? When will Australia provide all refugees on Manus Island and Nauru with safe resettlement?

Bring them here.

Australia forces PNG to violent acts

Dear Prime Minister,

Eric Tlozek reports on ABC News today that 

Detainees in the Manus Island detention centre say attempts by PNG immigration authorities to make them move will lead to violence.

and that

Power and water are expected to be cut off at the compound today and the men who remain could be arrested.

Bring them here.

except by force.

Dear Prime Minister,

The pressure on the refugees is increasing day by day. Today they cut the water in Foxtrot, the largest compound in Manus detention centre, and they are planning to cut the power soon. Immigration officers and Wilson security are threatening refugees right now to leave. The government is determined to close the detention centre and the refugees are determined to resist. It seems there is not any way to close the detention centre except by force. The Australian government is blatantly violating human rights at the same time that it is competing with other countries to get a seat on the UN Human Rights Council in October. This government wants to take the refugees out of the detention centre before October so they can tell the world they closed this prison camp. I am asking all of those advocates who are fighting for change to Australia’s illegal and dangerous refugee policies to be with the refugees in this historical period.
— Behrouz Boochani

How far will you go, Prime Minister? How many more people will you allow to be killed?

Abandoned. Starved.

Dear Prime Minister,

Your government continues to oversee the demolition of accommodation and cutting off of power and water at Manus island RPC. Australia is trying to force the refugees to leave the (relative) safety of the detention centre and go to East Lorengau Transit Centre (ELTC). As many refugee and advocates have repeatedly said there is no room for them at ELTC, there is no security there and they have no access to services such as medical care. Nor can they work.

Here is another reason why they cannot live at ELTC: there is not enough food.

These are truly starvation rations. The refugees on Manus Island are Australia's responsibility. End this torture and bring them to Australia now.