Voices from Manus: ‘We will never move to another prison’

Asylum seekers holding up banners during a protest at the Manus Island immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea
November 10, 2017

Hundreds of refugee activists gave a voice to the men in the abandoned Manus Island detention centre at a rally in Perth on November 5 organised by the Refugee Rights Action Network WA.

The 600 men remaining on Manus Island have been deprived food, water and medical aid since the centre’s closure on October 30.

They read out messages from six of the men using a ‘human microphone’, when one person reads a sentence and the crowd repeats it. Below are the messages they read out.

***

Mohammad Imran

(Written before the closure of the detention centre.)

We have experienced riots, been shot at and assaulted, treated sometimes worse than animals and on many occasions beaten in front of Australian security guards.

We call out for help in the vain hope that someone might answer. The fear that has grown
in the inmates' minds will never go away.

Six men who were full of life have died because of this endless pain. They would have been alive if they had been taken to safety.

It is obvious that the Australian government has no solution for the obstacles they have created during the four years of illegal imprisonment of innocent refugees and asylum seekers on Manus.

There is considerable uncertainty about our future on Manus Island. Friends who came with us on the same boat have been living in safety in Australia for almost three years.

We are drowning in a sea of despair. We are powerless and hopeless.

We have no intention nor the strength and ability to fight anyone. We have been made to endure indescribable and unspeakable hardships for more than four years.

For us who are held on Manus Island, it never rains but it pours.

If we stay in the centre, we will be at risk. If we leave the centre, we will be in danger.

We came to Australia thinking we would be given a chance to experience freedom and safety but in fact the reverse has been true.

Please don't let us die here slowly. All we are asking for is our freedom in a safe nation.

Farhad Bandesh

Our situation is critical. We fear there may be more deaths. We do not want to die.

We need you to protest the Australian government, to show humanity to people who have fled horrific situations and then been imprisoned and tortured by Australian government policies.

Please help us get safety and freedom. We are human like you.

Go to politician’s offices. Go to the streets. Please protest and fight with us for the sake of humanity. This is really urgent.

Mansour Shoushtari

We are not Australia's enemies nor are we prisoners of war. Yet they have cut food, water and power from us. We would not deserve this cruelty even if we were war prisoners.

After four years of heinously treating us, Australian immigration intends to send us to Lorengau, the only town on Manus where the local people don't want any stranger to live on their land.

We don't want to live in PNG. We have declared it many times. Local people don't want us it is very clear.

Reports indicate that earlier this week some Lorengau town residents under the name of the Manus Alliance against Human Rights Abuse too protested the forced transfer of refugees to Lorengau against their will.

They call on Australia to honour their responsibilities.

Naeem Bangash

The extermination of refugees in Manus is underway. According to the plan people are starving. Hunger and thirst is everywhere in the camp.

A humanitarian crisis is looming, sooner or later, if no help arrives from the outside world.

We appeal to all Australian and PNG human rights groups to come forward in the name of human rights to avert an imminent human tragedy.

Walid Zazai

We are in a dark place. We want our liberty back. We want our freedom back in a safe place.

Please stop playing with our lives.

I can see and hear my friends crying. Please Australia, don't torture us more. We have families too.

They hold our freedom in their hard hands. While closing one detention centre, Australia is opening three more near Lorengau on Manus Island.

The Australian government made a deal with the US. Only 24 refugees from Manus have gone. We don't know if the US will take more.

We believe we have been given false hope and more of our life has been taken from us. We are political prisoners because we are used by racist politicians to stay in power.

The Australian government admits to using us to get a message out to anybody that tries to come to Australia by boat that they will be treated with cruelty.

We are Australia's human shields.

The hardest thing for us is not knowing if we have a future.

When we asked Australia for asylum, many of us were just boys. Now we are men, but men with heavy hearts and knowledge of the worst of humanity.

Australia is slowly killing us. Aren't our lives worth saving?

Behrouz Boochani

Heat, humidity, hunger and mosquitoes are taking their toll.

This is not a hunger strike. It is a situation that the Australian government has created, forcing people into starvation and these harsh conditions by refusing to offer a safe place for resettlement.

It is simply unacceptable to try to force 600 men to relocate into a small town where we are not safe and many refugees have been seriously attacked.

This place is like a war zone. We have become refugees for the second time inside this hell hole abandoned and left to fend for ourselves.

They're stopping food from entering the prison camp.

No one has died today, however death is on its way to take someone else from us.

There is no medicine here. Everyone is frightened.

We will never retreat and leave this hell of a prison. We will never move to another prison.

We will never settle for anything less than freedom, only freedom. This is our struggle against injustice.

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