lies

DIBP out of control

Dear Prime Minister,

Act to restrain the Immigration Minister and his out-of-control department. The dangers of DIBP are again apparent, this time with the illegal detention of two people on Christmas Island, despite the fact that they are both Australian Citizens. DIBP imprisoned them under section 501 of the Immigration Act which gives the Minister the power to detain or deport non-citizens who fail the 'character test'. It is outrageous that such unrestricted power can be given to one person. As Fatima Measham writes:

It should disturb us that the immigration ministry has become the locus for responses to crime and national security, via so-called ‘character tests’ or ministerial determinations over whether someone has ‘integrated’. It is not its primary remit to enforce law and order; these are a matter for police and courts.
The immense power vested in the department also magnifies error and mischief. The pattern of recent years has in fact been about eroding impediments and remedies.
...
A draconian mindset can be contagious, and when it emanates from the top, it can permeate thoroughly. If citizenship is no insulation from vagaries of the state, then no one is safe.
— Fatima Measham, https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=52653#.WV8ufdOGOwA

You can't buy silence

Dear Prime Minister,

Dr Peter Young, former director of mental health services in the Manus island detention centre (2011-2014) states that the Australian government has settled the Manus island detainees' class action so that the refuges' testimonies would not be heard in open court.

The government is so intent on keeping these things quiet. It’s denying the public the opportunity to know whats going on, and be held accountable. ... It’s certainly not a fair amount ... It doesn’t represent the degree of suffering they were put through. ... it’s a drop in the ocean
— Dr Peter Young: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/06/16/manus-settlement-not-fair-amount-says-detention-psychiatrist_a_22255682/

As the Huffington Post points out the $70 million settlement is nothing compared to the estimated $14 billion Australia has spent on detention on recent years. It is paltry even compared to the $257 million refurbishment of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's office space.

End the coverups. End the suffering. Bring them here.

First Dog on the Moon: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/16/what-do-manus-island-detainees-and-tony-abbott-have-in-common

First Dog on the Moon: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/16/what-do-manus-island-detainees-and-tony-abbott-have-in-common

It's not justice

Dear Prime Minister,

The refugees on Manus Island continue to be heard:

The majority of the refugees have been seriously damaged physically and mentally and this money is not even enough to cover the medical expenses they will have to pay as a result
— Behrouz Boochani
We should wait until the next few weeks to make a decision. The system has humiliated us for a long time. It has threatened us and put us in a harsh place with no safety.
I myself have lost a lot of things in my life because of this system and my body has been damaged. Compensation can never bring justice for us. It’s not justice when the government has played with our bodies and souls for its own political aims. It’s not justice.
— Behrouz Boochani, http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/pacific/333186/manus-detainee-says-us-53-million-settlement-not-enough

End offshore detention. Close the camps #314

Dear Prime Minister,

The rolling demolition at the Manus RPC continues as Foxtrot compound is destroyed. Men are forced to sleep wherever they can. 850 men have no where to go. Lorengau Transit centre has no space to accommodate more people. Despite being called a Transit Centre, the men already there are not in transit to anywhere. They, like the men in the camp, are stuck in limbo. As Senator McKim says 'for pity's sake, bring them here.'

Senator Nick McKim

End offshore detention #309

Dear Prime Minister,

While the men on Manus Island are subjected to disruption and torture that is deliberately worsened every day the men, women and children detained on Nauru also continue to suffer. Documents and internal emails obtained from DIBP under freedom of information laws show that Australia Border Force lied to parliament to hide that major incidents of violence, sexual assault and self harm were ignored and misclassified as 'information'.

The DIBP insists that it "rejects any assertion that it attempted to mislead or hide pertinent information from the Senate inquiry" (which was in response to the leaked Nauru files last year). Prime Minister, here is yet more evidence of DIBP acting illegally and lying. Sack Minister Dutton, close the camps and bring them here.

Destruction on Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

I have written to you several times about the poet and gardener Mohammad Ali Maleki who we have imprisoned on Manus Island for 4 years. This week's hasty destruction of living quarters and the prayer room in Foxtrot section of Manus RPC have, unbelievably, included the destruction of Mohammad Ali's garden. This is what he writes:

THE ISLAND GARDEN
Goodbye the little garden.
In this dry island.
I have an empty room.
With all its warmth.
I got asthma.
At the back of my room.
I have planted a good garden.
I worked on it everyday
Giving it water and fertilizer.
It was my faithful friend..
better than many.
It was my closest co-mate
And used to listen to me carefully.
My words were all sad.
I was used to saying my sadness.
It smiled and said,
”Don’t get upset my sweetheart.
You will get free someday.”
One day I went to the garden.
I found it damped .
It had lost it’s feature.
I asked it “what happened darling?
Why are you sad?
You’re surrounded by fences.
Are you saddened by the fences?
It said “I have heard yesterday.
You wanna leave here.
You yourself brought me.
You put me between fences.
You took me away from nature.
Took me away from jungle.
I broke up with those.
Just because of you.
To be here beside you.
By passing a few years.
You wanna leave here.
And leave me alone here. ?”
Garden was telling the truth.
I brought it here.
Tears fell down from my eyes.
What should I do God?
What a mistake I made!
I have imprisoned you here.
I have betrayed you.
I said “listen sweetheart.
It’s not my own decision to stay.
It’s not my choice to leave too.
These evil people.
Have made a decision for me.
To annoy us again.”
I sat down and thought.
How can I tell this to the garden
To make it calm down.
I lied to the garden.
”I will never leave you.
I will be with you.
I will be with you forever.
Please smile again.
I like to see your smile .
To make it certain.
I have planned my hands into a garden.
By passing a few days
grass grew on my hands.
On the palms of my hands.
Nightingale sat on my hand .
She laid eggs on my hands
To hatch someday .
And fly into the garden.
They brought bad news.
Your camp should be demolished.
Our camp is Foxtrot too.
The oldest camp of all.
Move from here.
It should be demolished completely.
These bad evil people.
Have no pity in their hearts.
They brought spade and pickaxe.
To destroy the garden.
Because of fear of these men.
I took my hands off the garden.
Green gross and stems.
Feel and broke.
When Nightingale saw it.
She cursed and flew.
These evil bad hearted people.
Took it away and stopped.
The sun ☀ and Moon lights shine onto the garden.
They ordered the sky
To not rain on the garden.
My garden got dry a little .
Flowers and bushes got dry.
My garden ground
got as dry as the first day.
They pickaxed the garden.
And cut the flowers .
My poor little garden.
Was crying and sighing.
It was begging them to not do it.
My body feels pain.
My garden sound,
It’s sighs filled my ears.
They were cutting the flowers
These bad evil men.
Were smiling to flowers .
They killed my hope .
They set my soul on fire.
My garden was my soul.
It was my everything.
I cried towards the garden
And poured its soil on my head.
And cleaned my face.
With the blood of flowers .
For the last time.
I said good-bye to the garden.
And I died under my garden.
The Island Garden.
— Mohammad Ali Maleki, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155322167277716&set=a.47736032715.56485.547502715&type=3&theater
https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/10/01/featured-writer-mohammad-ali-maleki-biographical-note-curated-by-zalehah-turner/

https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/10/01/featured-writer-mohammad-ali-maleki-biographical-note-curated-by-zalehah-turner/

No more, I beg you. No more.

Bring all in offshore detention to Australia #302

Dear Prime Minister

I am writing to you on behalf of the 302nd asylum seeker held by Australia on Manus Island. The situation at the Reprocessing Centre (concentration camp) has dramatically worsened this week. Some men have been forced to move out of their accommodation and into one of the other already overcrowded buildings. Demolition of the buildings has started. Is it a coincidence that it is the start of Ramadan? After the well-documented year-long program by ABF, Transfield and Broadspectrum to make conditions for the men more and more draconian this violent disruption to the camp amounts to torture. As Imran Mohammad reported, the detainees have not been properly informed of what is happening, the rules keep changing so even those who try to make decisions are thwarted, and all this after four years of incarceration have damaged their bodies and their minds.

The majority of Australians (72%) support bringing the refugees here. Many of us are in direct contact either with the detainees, or with advocates who are. So we know that the statements made by Minister Dutton and his department are lies. For example, in the letter I received from DIBP yesterday, the first paragraph of page two reads:

People transferred and accommodated at the Manus Regional Processing Centre (RPC) are treated with respect and dignity and in accord with human rights standards. The Australian Government has contracted appropriately trained and experienced service providers to ensure that residents’ needs are adequately met, including the provision of health and welfare services.
— https://www.ruthhalbert.com.au/dear-prime-minister/2017/5/27/the-4th-reply-from-dibp

It is astounding how many lies have been crammed into those two sentences. All meaning of the words 'respect', 'dignity', human rights', trained', 'experienced', 'adequately met', 'health', 'welfare', 'services' has been completely degraded.

This is why I write to you, Prime Minister. There is no honesty, morality, or legality in the dealings, writings or announcements of Minister Dutton and DIBP. After 302 letters to you, I expect you to reply. And to act to bring the asylum seekers here now.

Consider their options

Dear Prime Minister,

The detainees on Manus Island have been told that the 'refugee processing centre' will be closed, starting in two weeks time. As Behrouz Boochani said yesterday, PNG does not want the refugees and the refugees cannot make a life there.

What can 'consider your options' be except a terrible cruel taunt? They have no money. They have no where to go. Their health has been broken. They are our responsibility.

Senator McKim reports directly from Manus Island

Dear Prime Minister,

Why is Minister Dutton still in office? Senator Nick McKim's trip to Manus Island provides further evidence that Minister Dutton has lied about the Good Friday shooting on Manus Island. How can you have any confidence in Minister Dutton?

Close the camps and bring them here.

DIBP's contempt of parliament

Dear Prime Minister,

Given the huge amount of money DIBP spends and the reach of its power it is frightening that it treated parliament with contempt by refusing to provide information to the Senate inquiry into offshore detention of refugees. We have a department with power over many thousands of peoples lives, interfering with the sovereignty of two other countries and it acts in secrecy.

When will you hold Minister Dutton and the DIBP to account? Australia's immigration and refugee policies must be remade, for fairness, justice and transparency.

On behalf of the 273rd person in offshore detention

Dear Prime Minister,

Manus island police commander David Yapu, local politician Ron Knight and the refugees themselves all contradict Minister Dutton's fabrication about what happened on Good Friday at the Manus Island detention centre. Who is taking responsibility for the safety of the Australian employees and the refugees there? Why have you not sacked Minister Dutton yet? 

End offshore detention. Close the camps.

Dear Prime Minister,

Your Immigration Minister continues to lie, to hide the CCTV evidence of the Good Friday attack on Manus Island, and to jeopardise relations between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Three refugees have lodged a formal complaint with Wilson Security, DIBP and the PNG Immigration authorities.

Please sack Minister Dutton immediately, close the camps and bring them here.

End the lying. Close the camps

Dear Prime Minister,

It is urgent that you hold Minister Dutton to account. His statement about the cause of the PNG navy firing shots into the Manus Island detention centre on Good Friday totally contradicts all statements made by the people who were there including PNG police and navy, as well as the refugees themselves. Minister Dutton's statement is calculated to inflame relations between the Manus people and the refugees and is sickening in its implications.

As Behrouz Boochani has said:

Local people and refugees are both victims under this harsh Australian policy.
— Behrouz Boochani, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/apr/20/dutton-alleges-manus-shooting-rampage-sparked-after-refugees-seen-with-boy

Prime Minister, if you condone Minister Dutton's statement then you are provoking violence between two disadvantaged groups to play to the worst racist tendencies in Australia. Why? To save your sinking popularity? Surely we can not go any lower than this. Close the camps. Bring them here.

End offshore detention. Bring them here.

Dear Prime Minister,

While Australia's radical cruelty is most violent on Manus Island we do not forget the men, women and children on Nauru who also suffer.

Children on Nauru. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155317890690513&set=pcb.10155317890765513&type=3&theater

Children on Nauru. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155317890690513&set=pcb.10155317890765513&type=3&theater

Close the camps and bring them here.

Azzam el Sheikh

Dear Prime Minister,

Azzam el Sheikh, a refugee from Lebanon, has now endured 19 days without any medical care for his multiple injuries, despite being in the presence of a GP more than once. He has not even been able to shower or change his clothes. He is still in police custody in Port Moresby even though he has not been charged with any offence. This prolonged cruelty must stop. Bring Azzam el Sheikh to Australia for proper medical treatment.

End offshore detention

Dear Prime Minister,

Where is the food?

Australia's prisoners on Manus Island have to queue for more than an hour for each meal, have it passed through a small hole in a wall, food runs out long before all the men have been fed, and what food there is is often rotten, mouldy and inedible.

"This is a sample of the meals given to men in Manus. It costs Australian taxpayers nearly half a million dollars for each detained person each year. Or about $4,000 per person per day." Lynne Murphy https://www.facebook.com/lynne.murphy.148/posts/10154501915596769?pnref=story

"This is a sample of the meals given to men in Manus. It costs Australian taxpayers nearly half a million dollars for each detained person each year. Or about $4,000 per person per day." Lynne Murphy https://www.facebook.com/lynne.murphy.148/posts/10154501915596769?pnref=story

When I rang Minister Dutton's office about the lack of food on 23 March I was told that the detainees have three square meals a day and unlimited access to food. Where is the food?

End offshore detention #253

Dear Prime Minister,

On ABC radio news today you were reported as being "non-committal" when asked about what would happen to the detainees on Manus Island and Nauru. The Financial Review headlines you as "undecided on unwanted asylum seekers." You have had four years to decide. Four years of these detainees lives lost to torture and degradation.

Photo: Hesam Fetrati

Photo: Hesam Fetrati

In Behrouz Boochani and Arash Kamali Sarvestani's movie "Chauka please tell us the time" a Manusian mans says "It's so frustrating to hear that name Chauka being used for the purpose of abusing people, or torturing people, or threatening people. ... We took them here to care for them until they find such place where they can settle."

As Mr Sarvestani says, we Australian have abdicated responsibility for the refugees, and by our racism and your unforgivable indecision, Prime Minister, we victimise both Manusians and refugees.

End offshore detention

Dear Prime Minister,

Conditions on Manus Island are getting even worse. Behrouz Boochani reports that two men, both dangerously ill, have been denied medical treatment and been removed to Lorengau gaol.

Is this Australia's doing or is it because Australia has no control over what is happening? Detention on Manus Island and Nauru is done under our name and with our money. These people are our responsibility.

Close the camps. Bring them here.

End offshore detention #238

Dear Prime Minister

https://www.theguardian.com/world/australia-books-blog/2017/mar/24/detained-on-nauru-this-is-the-most-painful-part-of-my-story-when-you-realise-no-one-cares

https://www.theguardian.com/world/australia-books-blog/2017/mar/24/detained-on-nauru-this-is-the-most-painful-part-of-my-story-when-you-realise-no-one-cares

This is the most painful part of my story – when you realise no one cares.
— Benjamin, detained on Nauru since 2013

Close offshore detention. Bring them here.

The third reply from DIBP. No reply yet from Prime Minister Turnbull.

This is the third letter I have received from DIBP. The cursory way in which the case of Mr Faysal Ishak Ahmed is written about is distressing. 

More than half of the content of this letter is identical to parts of the first and second letters I have received. None of the three letters address the questions I have asked the Prime Minister.

This letter, like the previous ones, continues a mixture of 'weasel' words (e.g. 'the Department is not aware of', 'transferees', 'healthcare broadly consistent with Australian public health standards') meaningless generalisations and outright lies. For example, 'Australia assists PNG to provide refugees with settlement support services to assist with integration.' Although PNG has signed the UN Refugee Convention (in 1986) it did so with 7 reservations and has not made changes to its laws to ensure that refugees are treated according to that convention. DIBP knows full well that when it says that refugees are free to settle in PNG it is impossible both for the refugees to do so and be protected by the law, and for the local Papua New Guineans to have the resources and infrastructure to support them to do that. Australia is expecting a small country still in early stages of its own development to do something that we can both afford and have the multicultural history to support.

Another mix of weaselling and lying is in the paragraph about intake of refugees:

Restoration of Australia’s border integrity has enabled the Government to increase the annual refugee intake. As a result the Humanitarian Programme will increase from 13,750 to 18,750 by 2018-19. ... Australia is also welcoming 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict zone.

We have only taken 6000 of the Syrian refugees so far, and the word 'welcoming' stretches credulity. Australia took in 15,000 asylum seekers in 2015-16 which in a country of 24,000,000 is only 0.06% of the population. In the same period, Sweden took in 150,000 which is 1.5% of their population. To match that we could take in 360,000 refugees. The DIBP correspondent fails to admit that most refugees are only granted Temporary Protection Visas and are in a jobless, insecure limbo. There are still 25,000 people on Bridging Visas waiting for an outcome of their application process which seems to have stalled.