indefinite detention

On behalf of the 553rd man on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

After nearly five years Australia has provided no viable or sustainable option for the refugees it forcibly transferred to Papua New Guinea.

Amnesty now for all men, women and children detained by Australia on Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Bring them all to freedom and safety now.

Enough is enough

Dear Prime Minister,

It’s going to take a very strong leader to turn and say enough is enough
— Russell Broadbent, Liberal MP

Can you be that leader, Prime Minister? Can you rise to the challenge laid down by Mr Russell Broadbent, Liberal MP, when he spoke at a book launch last week?

What is happening on Manus and Nauru can’t go on ...
If you believe this country is what I believe this country is, this situation is unacceptable. The situation on Manus is unacceptable – because I believe this country paints a picture of who it is.

And what picture do we paint? As Mr Broadbent laments, it is a 'sad tale of our response to people often fleeing terrible, terrible hardship,' which was 'something that we as a nation have no sympathy for or understanding of.' This is why you must show strong leadership, Prime Minister. Mr Broadbent acknowledged that the public, especially women, cannot abide indefinite detention of refugees. He encouraged his audience to send letters to Malcolm Turnbull. And so I am. While the 50 refugees prepare to leave for USA I write on behalf of the many others who remain tortured in limbo on Manus Island and Nauru. And, in my 422nd letter to you, once again I ask that you bring all the men, women and children detained there to safety and freedom.

Show leadership

Dear Prime Minister,

Emeritus Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill (UNSW) was interviewed on Radio NZ today. He reminds us that Australia was integral to solving the Indo-Chinese refugee crisis of the 1970s and 1980s by working closely with other countries in our region. But when Australia's current 'Stop the Boats' regime started there was no resettlement plan for the detainees. Neither Nauru nor Papua New Guinea have the social, political or cultural resources to take refugees detained there. They are not viable options for resettlement. This four-year-long deadlock is due to the mistake of making 'tough' policies which have removed all options. Australia has painted itself into a corner therefore no other country will negotiate with us because we have nothing to offer in return.

Professor Goodwin-Gill challenges Australia to take the opportunity for leadership, in the local region and globally, in the interests of refugees, migrants and countries. There will be no progress unless we co-operate with other countries and obey international law. We must stop playing tough and being arbitrary.

Prime Minister, last week you claimed to be a strong leader. The issue of Australia's refugee and migrant policy gives you an even bigger role for leadership than the Marriage postal survey. Please demonstrate your leadership and find a humane, immediate solution for the men, women and children trapped by Australia on Manus Island and Nauru.

Recent and recurring violence on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

Many of the asylum seekers on Manus Island do not leave the detention centre, despite its crowded, unhygienic conditions, inadequate food and unrelenting monotony. Why? Because they are targets for violent attacks. Behrouz Boochani reports two recent incidents:

While an Iranian refugee was walking in Lorengau town he was threatened by two men. The men put a knife to his body and asked for money and his belongings.
[An Afghani man] was approached by men in Lorengau town who also threatened him with a knife. He told me ‘I was walking in the street close to the ocean when three young men put a knife to my back and asked for money.’ The refugee claims that they took one hundred Kina and his phone.

As the refugees and the Papua New Guineans have repeatedly said, settlement in Papua New Guinea is not an option. It is not safe. Bring the men detained on Manus Island, and the men, women and children on Nauru to Australia. Now.

Imran Mohammad is illegally detained on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

Honi Soit, the weekly newspaper of The University of Sydney will publish a series of articles by Imran Mohammad, a Rohingya refugee, currently detained by Australia in Manus Regional Processing Centre. In the first article, Imran introduces himself. This is what he writes about being forcibly and indefinitely detained on Manus Island:

I was upset that I was moved here against my will, but what has really broken my heart is the knowledge that the detention centre was intentionally built to make refugees and asylum seekers suffer. It would take me decades to explain how we have been soaked in the rain and heated in the burning sun at Australia’s hands. Despite being a country that holds its head high with great pride in preserving human lives, I was almost killed at their hands during the riot in our camp in 2014.

I have committed no crime, however myself and hundreds of men have been imprisoned for almost four years and still have no clear view of our future. I would rather be in a prison cell than in this inhumane setting, as at least I would know the date of my release.
— Imran Mohammad,

Imran turns 23 in 3 days time. He fled Burma when he was 16. What were you doing in the seven glorious years between 16 and 23, Prime Minister? Did you know, even then, that you would have people tortured and killed to achieve your goals? What we are doing to the people on Manus and Nauru is personal. You have the power to change the policy. Close the camps and bring them here.