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?


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.

All refugees in detention are political prisoners

Dear Prime Minister,

Today, Melbourne's port was blockaded by protestors. Their banners included 'SOS Manus' and 'All refugees in detention are political prisoners.' How much did today's port blockade cost Australia's economy? On financial cost alone, how can you continue to allow the offshore detention of refugees?

Do not reply with the platitude 'We need to stop drownings at sea.' It is immoral to imprison and torture  the 2000 people on Manus and Nauru on the pretext of preventing other people's suffering. The boats have continued but the Australian navy now intercepts them (at vast expense) at sea and illegally and secretly turns them back. Last week, a boat with 29 Sri Lankan adults and children reached Australia's shore, which disproves your claim that no vessel has arrived for 3.5 years. Did the Sri Lankans claim asylum? If so, why were they flown straight back to Sri Lanka? How much did that 'special' flight from Exmouth cost?

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.

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 forced deportations

Dear Prime Minister,

On behalf of the 350th man on manus Island and all the men,women and children on Nauru, it is urgent that Australia stop forcibly sending refugees back to the countries they have fled from.

Five men have been forced to return to Pakistan after enduring four years of torture and illegal detention on Manus Island. As Marilyn Beech writes:

Whatever glib phrase or technicality the DIBP and Border Force - or their Minister - would use about these men’s return, the facts are that they did not want to return to one of the most dangerous places on Earth, and have only done so as a result of coercive pressure, and a flawed assessment of their claim to be refugees.
Why would anyone remain on Manus for four years - and struggle to remain in PNG - if he had not been fleeing even worse danger at home?
I know what sorts of things the men Australia has tortured on Manus since 2013 have endured. I know that proud, healthy young men do not put up with imprisonment, humiliation, illness, lousy food, medical neglect, boredom, racist provocation, denial of human rights and separation from everyone and everything they hold dear, for four years, without the most compelling reasons. Why would they? It has cost every man his health and youth, and it has cost four men their lives.
One of the men had legal representation in PNG, and an injunction had been obtained preventing his deportation. I had believed him to be safe for this reason. I am therefore shocked to the core to find him gone, but I don’t know the circumstances surrounding the men’s removal from PNG. If Australia has acted illegally, I look forward to the government paying massive compensation to these of my fellow human beings whom it has wronged.
Ludicrously, the travel documents prepared for the men for their return journey to Pakistan cite, as the reason for their removal, ‘’illegal stay’’ in PNG. They did not enter or stay of their own free will, and were only ever in PNG because the Australian government forced them there.
Shame on Australia. Our government has dishonoured every decent person who ever made a sacrifice for this nation. Shame on those of our people who have willed themselves to ‘’not know’’ what Australia has done to human beings on Manus, Nauru and Christmas Island, and in the onshore detention centres, and in the suburbs of our cities, where people who came to us seeking protection and a new life have set themselves alight, thrown themselves under trains, jumped from the balconies of units, hanged themselves, cut themselves, poisoned themselves, watched their friends die.

Prime Minister, refoulement is illegal. The men on Manus Island and the men, women and children must be brought to Australia. Bring them here.

Australia is responsible for Manus Island and Nauru detention centres

Dear Prime Minister,

Australia has “clear and undeniable” responsibility for the physical and psychological damage its illegal offshore detention regime has caused to asylum seekers and refugees, a senior UN official has said.
— Ben Doherty -
The punitive approach adopted by Australia towards migrants who arrived by boat has served to erode their human rights”, Mr. Crépeau said at the end of his first official visit* to Australia. “It is a fundamental principle of human rights law that one person cannot be punished only for the reason of deterring another.
— François Crépeau -

Read the full report here:

Close the camps and bring them here.

The pressure on Manus Island continues

Dear Prime Minister,

Behrouz Boochani writes:

Unfortunately I did not have much access to the internet during the past two weeks because someone stole my phone. What has happened on Manus in these past two weeks? Immigration twice came to us and threatened that they want to close this prison on 31st October, and said the refugees must leave the prison and go to East Lorengau camp which is close to Lorengau town. Immigration is pushing people to accept this option by calling the refugees and talking with them, saying you don’t have any choice. If they send people to East Lorengau it means that they will continue the policy of denying our rights and denying our freedom and it will not solve the problem. Also they destroyed a part of Foxtrot camp last week, and about 25 refugees from there are currently living in Oscar compound or Charlie, which is a small tent close to Oscar. Immigration’s plan is to first destroy the whole of Foxtrot by the end of June and then start sending people to East Lorengau camp from other compounds. Until now nobody has accepted to leave the centre and go to East Lorengau camp under these conditions and the people in Foxtrot are resisting going to other compounds. Also Immigration will stop all of the activities in the centre, including exercise, English classes and excursions. This means that they are very serious about closing the centre. They will close the small shopping facility in the centre by each week cutting one item from sale, for example one week they will stop selling drinks, then the next week they will stop selling chocolate and the next week they will stop selling phone cards, and on and on until the shop is closed. At this moment the problem is that the other compounds don’t have the capacity to accept the refugees from Foxtrot because there are not enough rooms and tents for them. We don’t know how Immigration want to move people from Foxtrot. Their plan is to make the tents and rooms so crowded that people have to leave the centre and go to East Lorengau camp. Also there is so much pressure on people with negative refugee status, and every day Immigration threatens them, saying you must leave PNG and go back to your country. There will be some hard days in the next weeks because the system wants to settle us in PNG under pressure and by force.

Boat turn-backs don't save lives

Dear Prime Minister,

Yet another report has found that not only is Australia’s policy of turning back asylum seeker boats internationally unlawful but that it undermines the prospects of addressing the issue of forced displacement.

Even the bare details of what 'turn-back' means are shocking, including asylum seekers being held at sea for more than a month, quartered in windowless lower decks holding 120 people, and the government building fishing vessels and lifeboats with which to forcibly return people.

As Ben Doherty writes in The Guardian:

Countries should not automatically return asylum seekers to countries of origin, or transit countries such as Indonesia where, previously, significant numbers of Australian-bound asylum seeker have boarded boats.

Asylum claims should be assessed and processed on land, not at sea, the paper argues, and countries should create new “alternative pathways” to ensure safe and legal access to Europe and Australia, obviating the need for asylum seekers to rely on smuggling rings and reduce fatalities at sea.



End offshore detention. Close the camps.

Dear Prime Minister,

Red Cross have seen Azzam el Sheikh in Port Moresby's Bomana gaol and requested to the prison Commander that he be taken to hospital immediately. He was beaten up in Lorengau gaol by the order of an Australian man in plain clothes and has been untreated and not even showered for 26 days. His 'offence'? He refused Australia's offer of cash to return to Lebanon and asked for a review of his refugee status, as is his legal right.

When I rang Peter Dutton's office about Azzam I was told I was invading Azzam's privacy.  Whose interest is this privacy? Not Azzam's. Behind the privacy screen it seems that Australia feels free to be more brutal and callous than can be believed possible.

Close the camps and bring them here.

End offshore detention #244

Dear Prime Minister,

Stop deporting people after four years suffering....... Today a Lebanese guy was deported from Manus prison. Yesterday the Australian Border Force invited him to a meeting, but took him by force from the meeting and put him in Lorengau police station last night. His meeting with ABF only took a few minutes, then the police took him from the meeting. All of the Wilson officers were around him when he was talking with ABF. Their plan is that the plane will fly on Friday morning and arrive in Lebanon on Friday night. Two days ago six Lebanese guys went back to Lebanon ‘voluntarily’, but actually it was not voluntarily because they were under such pressure for a long time and only signed to go back under this pressure. Yesterday ABF also had a meeting with three other Lebanese guys and told them ‘you don’t have any choice, sign and get $US25000 or we will deport you just like we did to your friend.’ ABF had a meeting with two Vietnamese guys too and threatened to deport them in the next few days. Already about 12 people from Bangladesh signed under similar pressure and ABF told them we will send you back in the next month. ABF is threatening other people to go back too and said you don’t have any choice. Australia is obviously breaking international laws and the refugee convention that it has obligations under, and it is a big crime by a government that has tortured people for four years. It shows how values of humanity have died in Australia. You, Australian government, are obviously criminal and can not wash your hands of this. Why are you deporting people after four years suffering?
— Behrouz Boochani,

Close the camps and bring them here.

End offshore detention #241

Dear Prime Minister,

Have you been following the case of the (ongoing) attempted deportation of Saeed?

I guess the actions of DIBP in denying him legal process and sneaking him to Sydney in the middle of the night give an answer to my question from yesterday. The 'nowhere' state that the detainees in Manus Island find themselves seems to now extend to people like Saeed on the Australian mainland.

Is this the best you can do for Australia, Prime Minister, to show our fear and our weakness by punishing people who mistakenly put their trust in Australia's imagined qualities of fairness and opportunity?

For the 221st man on Manus island

Dear Prime Minister,

Refoulement is illegal.

The Nepalese Asylum seeker who was "involuntarily removed" from Australia's offshore detention centre on Manus Island and returned to Nepal is in hiding, in fear of his life. He did not know he was going to be forcibly returned until it was happening.

Prime Minister, your Immigration Minister and his department are acting illegally. Stop pretending that this is a matter for Papua New Guinea and take responsibility now. Close the camps and bring them here.