illegal detention

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.

NGV dumps Wilson Security

Dear Prime Minister,

Refugees and journalists reported serious allegations of abuse and criminal activity by Wilson Security guards in offshore detention centres. Arts activists staged a number of actions at the National Gallery of Victoria which also contracts Wilson for security services. Visiting artists at the NGV Triennial also protested directly against Wilson Security. The NGV has now ended its contract with Wilson Security.

Refugees and citizens will continue to protest against businesses associated with the illegal and inhumane treatment of refugees by Australia. End offshore detention and bring all refugees to safety and freedom now.

It's a crime you've committed in Australia's good name

Dear Prime Minister,

Today, 30/8/2017, Mostafa Azimitabar and Farhad Bandesh have released a song and video, written and filmed at Manus Island Detention Centre, where they have been imprisoned by Australia for more than four years. The video was premiered at the Queensland Poetry Festival.

It’s Moz from Manus Island detention center.
The reason that I’ve created the song is to bring attention to our plight. We have been left in a political limbo four for years now. The conditions are hellish and how they treat us is deplorable. I hope that people who are listening to my song will understand our desperation,frustration,and fear.
The song was shown at Queensland Poetry Festival By Writing Through Fences (Janet Galbraith, Jenell Quinsee) on Sunday at 11:30 am. 27/Aug/2017
— Moz, Manus Island

In the song, Moz sings:

'Help us keep our sanity
Remember our humanity
I am, you are
We are all the same.'

Give amnesty to all detainees on Manus Island and Nauru and bring them to safety and freedom now.

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?

Full responsibility

Dear Prime Minister,

What is your response to the statement made by United Nations high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, which is a direct and unequivocal criticism of Australia's refugee policies? Do not forward this letter to Minister Dutton or DIBP. Australia has been criticised at the highest level and we need your response.

There is a fundamental contradiction in saving people at sea, only to mistreat and neglect them on land. ... I urge Australia to bring an immediate end to the harmful practice of offshore processing, offer solutions to its victims, for whom it retains full responsibility, and work with us on future alternatives that save lives at sea and provide protection to people in need.
— Filippo Grandi, high commissioner UNHCR
Somali refugee Sabah holds up photos of her three children at a detention centre in Nauru, in 2014. Sabah, 28, had not seen her children since they became separated fleeing extremist violence in Somalia three years earlier.   © Panos/ Vlad Sokhin

Somali refugee Sabah holds up photos of her three children at a detention centre in Nauru, in 2014. Sabah, 28, had not seen her children since they became separated fleeing extremist violence in Somalia three years earlier.   © Panos/ Vlad Sokhin

End offshore detention immediately and bring all men, women and children on Manus Island and Nauru here now.

Where is the humanity?

Dear Prime Minister,

I have asked you in a previous letter 'Where is your humanity? Where is justice?' In the following message from Walid Zazai, an Afghani refugee on Manus Island, he asks the same:

I’m Walid Zazai and I’m from Afghanistan.
I came to Christmas Island, Australia on the 3rd of August 2013.
I was so happy at that time because I felt that I was safe and I was so thankful to the navy officers who saved my life by rescuing us when our boat was leaking. I was on Christmas Island for about 6 months. Then on the 15th January, 2014, I received bad news: I was told that I will be moved to the processing centre on Manus Island in PNG where my claim for asylum would be processed. They also told me, however, that I would never set foot in Australia.
Things soon started to get much harder. It was not long after I arrived on Manus Island that the protests for freedom started. On 16th February at night, the locals rioted and attacked us, with the help of the security contractors “G4S”, who were in charge of security at that time. They wounded about 70 guys. Devastatingly, our beautiful young friend Reza Barati, was murdered by a security officer.
Most of the injured guys were brought to Charlie Compound. All of them had injuries on their heads and all over their faces. These men couldn’t eat because their mouths were wounded. Myself and two other friends were helping the injured men to eat, to move to their beds and to go to the toilet. Whilst I was watching them my heart was bleeding and I cried. Late in the night of the 16th February, they brought in a man who had been hit in the eyes, and his eye was bleeding. You could hear him shouting all the night and finally the next morning he was taken to Port Moresby hospital. Some other guys were just receiving treatment in Charlie such as their bandages being changed. These riots were so terrible and one of the worst events in my life which I will never forget. During the riot I was shifted to Charlie Compound, where I hid with some of my friends and security. To this day, I still have nightmares about that night.
After these riots I started having some mental health issues. I was given sleeping pills which made me feel drunk, and like I was taking drugs. They actually damaged my mental health more so I stopped taking them.
Time kept going on. I was shifted to Delta compound a month after the riot. In Delta compound I shared a room with 2 other friends. I was always crying at night time, because every day was the same, without me being processed. I was told many times to wait for the processing or to go back home. I just had to wait because there was no way I could go back home.
In mid January, 2015, the riots started again after a hunger strike. After 3 days of protests, the Wilson security guards came up with big glasses and riot uniforms. They entered Delta compound from the back gates and started beating us up. Two officers held me with some force by my arms and dragged me to a car. I fainted and when I opened my eyes I was laying down on the ground, with a few nurses moving around here and there. There were lots of wounded.
I remember I could smell food, so I looked back and I saw the Transfield staff who were working there were taking some food from their mess, oblivious and apparently unmoved by our plight. I was shocked! I wondered if they had hearts. If they had hearts surely they would come to us and help and at least give us water. Instead, they just continued eating roasted food and drinking juice.
I looked at the sky and thanked God he hadn’t made me be like those people who saw us being beaten by Australian forces (Wilson) and just kept eating their food. I asked God to keep my heart tender and not to let me get a heart of stone; Not to eat while another human in front of me is in pain.
After a few hours on the ground I could stand up and drink some water, then they put me in a car and drove me to Bravo compound. They kept all the guys from Delta compound there while they were searching Delta.
After an hour there, 3 ERT (Emergency Response Team) officers came and they asked for me. They told me to get into a car and they took me to Chauka - Chauka is a place where they took us for solitary confinement. They put me in a room and took all my stuff. When I asked them why they brought me here, they replied they didn’t know and told me to keep quiet.
The next morning they handcuffed my hands and pushed me in a bus and took me to the police station and put me in a cell there. I was there for about a week. Sleeping on cement, with no pillow, cover, mattress or showers. The toilet there was full of shit and no one could enter there because of the putrid smell. Each day they gave us a small box of food for lunch and for dinner.
After a week, they sent me to the jail where they held some other refugees as well without doing any crime. We had no trial. We were put in jail with no due process and no chance to defend ourselves.
In jail, there were only 2 showers for 60 guys and two toilets, but still nothing to sleep on and still no pillows or mattress. In jail, they also badly beat some of my friends. We were there for about 2 weeks, all up including the police station prison cell, I had spent 19 days in jail.
On the last day in jail, some Wilson security came along with police and threatened us that if you guys make any problems again in detention we will put you in jail and send you back to your country where you come from.
After 19 days they returned me to Chauka where I was told by Wilson Security that I hit an officer with a steel rod. They also said I was throwing rocks at officers. These allegations are not true. I strenuously deny them us untrue. I was never given an opportunity to defend myself or tell my side of the story.
After a night in Chauka, I was moved to Charlie compound which was “Red zone” at that time. Those of us in Charlie were under the supervision of Wilson Security at all times and even when I was going to the toilet they followed me like I was a big criminal. Once a week they took us to do a 20 minute phone call and the security officers escorted us all the way, they were not allowing us to talk to any of our friends in other compounds through the fence. When we tried, officers would kick us and push us to move on.
I have often asked them for the evidence of why they took me to jail, but they have never provided it to me. I was just told that they were investigating. To this day, I am still waiting for this evidence. I’m still waiting for justice.
While I was in Charlie, I again had lots of mental health problems, and was not getting any proper treatment for that. I told them that I was not good, but all the doctor did was suggest I take sleeping pills, so I would feel drugged again.
It was while I was in Charlie Compound, that the immigration asked me to come for the interview for my asylum claim. I was shocked when I got the appointment for my interview, because I was mentally sick. I couldn’t eat well and I had nightmares every night.
The next day when I went to the interview I told immigration that I was not feeling well and didn’t feel capable of having my interview. They replied that I had to have it then. I think God is always with me, as luckily when the interpreter came it was the wrong one and he couldn’t speak my language. They looked for another interpreter but couldn’t find one, so they had to arrange another appointment so they could get an interpreter who could speak my language. After that my mental health got worse, and I couldn’t attend the interview. I explained that I was not feeling well but to please give me some time. I also said I wanted an answer as to why I went to jail without doing any crime. I said, ‘If I did any crime please give me the evidence’. Instead of giving me treatment and answers they rejected my asylum claim without interviewing me. That gave me more shock! When I got the documents that said I had been given non refugee status, I tore the documents up right there in the immigration office.
I was crying every night and asking God for justice because I could see humans in front of me but couldn’t see any humanity. Later, when they gave me a second chance to claim asylum, I got my refugee status.
— Walid Zazai,

Prime Minister, when will you end this suffering, restore Australia's humanity and justice, and bring all refugees in offshore detention here?

End offshore detention of refugees #352

Dear Prime Minister,

The uncertainty facing the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru amounts to torture. Is Australia determined to play with their health and lives until the very last moment? Foreign Minister Bishop says that the refugee deal with the US is going ahead, but the US officials who have barely made a start on interviewing refugees on Nauru left on Friday, two weeks early. Why?

Why go through this elaborate charade? Zebedee Parkes wrote yesterday of the six reasons why all detainees on Manus island and Nauru must be brought to Australia now:

  1. Systemic child abuse
  2. Sexual assault
  3. Abusive guards
  4. Medical neglect
  5. Forcing people to deportation, resettlement or suicide
  6. Resettling people in PNG and Nauru is dangerous

These are not historic, these are ongoing. Stop messing about with the unreliable US and bring all detainees to Australia now.

End offshore detention. Bring all refugees here. #349

Dear Prime Minister,

The seven Australians who are on trial for their protest at Parliament House last year against offshore detention have entered a plea of not guilty. This is their statement:

Today seven WACA members stood trial charged with “Destroy, Damage Commonwealth Property”. We have entered a plea of not guilty, and have exercised our right to be heard by a jury. We maintain our innocence in this matter.
On the 30th of November last year, we travelled to Parliament to speak directly to our representatives. Refugees and asylum seekers have been detained in our name for too long and the Australian Government’s policies are killing innocent people.
We needed to tell our representatives directly that they are complicit in the rape, torture and child abuse of innocent people who have been imprisoned indefinitely for the simple act of asking for help. We did this because we have the privilege to speak when others cannot. Every day on Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island is another day in hell; every single person in offshore detention must be evacuated to safety immediately.
The Australian Government’s recent out-of-court settlement with the men of Manus Island highlights the Government’s stark understanding of their complicity in this abuse; abuse that they do not want on the public record. This Government must explain to the Australian people what their intention is for the men of Manus. These men came to us fleeing persecution and seeking our protection. The Australian government is obligated under International Law to provide asylum, however it denies the basic rights of these people and further traumatises them.
Every person has the right to seek asylum, and to live in freedom and safety; when will the Australian Government extend this right to every man, woman and child held in offshore detention?
Neither the Government nor the Opposition can be trusted whilst Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island Immigration prisons remain open. Both sides of politics continue to violate human rights, through indefinite detention, support of boat turn-backs, and by refusing to take responsibility for the resulting deaths at sea.
It is clear that the Government’s offshore detention policy has failed. Australia has become a world leader in cruelty. The policy is in direct violation of the UN Convention on Refugees. The Government’s “US Deal” is nothing but a desperate attempt to disguise the establishment of a permanent island prison on Nauru.
For years we have attempted to make ourselves heard through more conventional means. We have written letters and signed petitions, we have attended rallies and speak outs, we have held sit-ins and we have blockaded in attempts to stop deportations to danger. We have reached a critical moment in Australia’s history, a moment when these methods are no longer enough. We have been unable to reach those in power, our so-called representatives. We are now in a state of emergency. We are in the midst of an humanitarian crisis. We took direct action inside our Parliament House in an attempt to be heard. We called out to our elected representatives to demand that they end their inhumane policies.
We cannot remain silent whilst innocent people are imprisoned and tortured in our name. We call on the Australian people to rise with us in solidarity with those who rise every day on Manus Island, Christmas Island and Nauru, and demand we take the higher road, a road to freedom, humanity and respect for all peoples on this earth.

End offshore detention #348

Dear Prime Minister,

Honi Soit, The University of Sydney, has published another article by Imran Mohammad who is still trapped on Manus Island. This is the first part of Imran Mohammad's article:

Last month, I spent yet another birthday in this God-forsaken place. It was my fourth birthday in Manus prison. I was a young boy of just 19 when I stepped onto Papua New Guinea on October 29, 2013. Today I am 23, and I have suffered every day since.
As soon as I got off the plane, I was forcibly moved to this isolated place, where everything could be concealed from the rest of the world. I didn’t know how appalling the punishment would be. This was a hole designed to make humans suffer in a way that the world will struggle to ever comprehend. It is beyond human understanding, unless you are living it.
— Imran Mohammad,

Prime Minister, end the suffering. Bring all offshore detainees to Australia and close the camps.

Australia's kyriarchal system on Manus and Nauru

Dear Prime Minister,

In Behrouz Boochani's article titled 'A Kyriarchal System: New Colonial Experiments / New Colonial Resistance' he describes Manus RPC as a Kyriarchal system of systematic oppression rooted in colonial ideology. To protest against this system, which we Australians use to detain and torture refugees on Manus Island and Nauru, he directs much of his efforts to producing documentation and protest in the form of works of art: a play ('Manus'), a film ('Chauka, please Tell us the Time') and soon a book (to be published by Picador).

Prime Minister, Behrouz Boochani, Abdul Aziz Muhamat, Imran Mohammad, Mohammad Ali Maleki, Mr Eaten Fish and other refugees who have been imprisoned and tortured by Australia have created a legacy of documents which will ensure that Australia's illegality and cruelty will never be forgotten. Will it be your cowardice and inaction that is recorded in these documents? Or will you bring all refugees on Manus island and Nauru to Australia and end the nightmare of indefinite offshore detention?

All living creatures feel the meaning of freedom

Dear Prime Minister,

On 6 July 2017, Surena Mirzaei, a refugee illegally detained by Australia on Manus Island wrote:

Trying of caterpillar to come out of cocoon.
All living creatures feel the meaning of freedom.
All of them try to get it.
What about human?
Human has high level between living creatures.
Human has morality.
For which reason, for what logic , a human must be in detention?
— Surena Mirzaei

He accompanied his poem with this video:

Prime Minister, how do you answer?

Bring the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru here.

End offshore detention now. #345

Dear Prime Minister,

Stefan Armbruster's report for SBS is another account of the dire situation of the refugees on Manus Island as the camp is demolished around them.

'Really it is not safe for me. I fled my country because I was persecuted and the locals don't want us to stay here,' said Shamindan, a Tamil from Sri Lanka.

The possibility of asylum in the US is another unknown. Australia's $70 million out-of-court settlement has given no sign of freedom and as Naeem, a refugee from Pakistan, says:

'Money cannot [give me] back the four years of my life that I have lost, without committing any crime.'

It is a testament to the character of the detainees that there has not yet been any violent resistance under this extreme provocation.

Prime Minister, answer Behrouz Boochani's question:

'When will we leave this island?'

Men on Manus Island need help urgently.

Dear Prime Minister,

The conditions for refugees detained on Manus Island are in crisis. It is urgent that all the men who are detained there by Australia and who are now deprived of basic necessities for survival are brought to Australia immediately.

Allow refugees to go to New Zealand

Dear Prime Minister,

If "Canberra has not rejected outright New Zealand's offer to take refugees from Nauru and Manus Island, according to Australian's ambassador for people smuggling and human trafficking" (Andrew Goledzinowski) then why haven't you acted to start moving people from offshore detention to New Zealand immediately?

Violence on Nauru

Dear Prime Minister,

The refugees on Nauru are also in danger. 

More shame on Nauru. This Sri Lankan asylum seeker was beaten by security guards after trying to take food from the mess. His head injuries resulted in hospitalization. Two weeks ago a Bangladeshi man was given the same treatment. This is appalling and unwarranted! And apparently ok with Australia!
— Eyes on Offshore:

Bring all detainees on Manus Island and Nauru here now.

End offshore detention now. #337

Dear Prime Minister,

Behrouz Boochani publishes this image of a huge knife wound inflicted on a refugee by a Manus Island local and asks: 'How does Australia want to settle refugees in PNG?'

Attack highlights danger for Manus refugees: RadioNZ

Attack highlights danger for Manus refugees: RadioNZ

The latest attack on a Manus Island detainee shows it is too dangerous for refugees to settle in PNG. Bring them to Australia immediately.

ABF bullying refugees on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

It is becoming impossible to keep up with the daily atrocities on Manus Island. Buildings are demolished, food is restricted, services are removed. Australia is treating refugees like shooting fish in a barrel. In the increasing chaos, the men are issued with notices like this:

The illegal behaviour is all Australia's. Bring all refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to Australia now.

Australia is accountable

Dear Prime Minister,

How many times must you be told that Australia is accountable for the 1500+ asylum seekers held in offshore detention before you will act to free them? This time it is the United Nations committee examining whether we comply with the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that has told us so. The committee expressed alarm at

the harsh conditions prevailing in Australia’s offshore detention centres, including acute isolation, overcrowding, allegations of sexual abuse by service providers, as well as reports of repeated incidence of suicide and self-harm among asylum seekers.

In the preamble to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights it says in part

Considering that, ... recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Recognizing that these rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person,

Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social and cultural rights, as well as his civil and political rights,

Considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms,

Realizing that the individual, having duties to other individuals and to the community to which he belongs, is under a responsibility to strive for the promotion and observance of the rights recognized in the present Covenant,

Your government is required to abide by these ideals. And you as an individual are also obliged, as are we all. Offshore detention breaks everyone of these human rights. It must end now.