Zebedee Parkes

Protests are continuing in Manus Island detention centre as refugees resist the Australian government's plans to move them to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre. Two refugees have died since August and numerous others have been attacked by locals in East Lorengau.

After more than four years of systemic torture, six deaths and the Papua New Guinea Supreme court ruling its presence unconstitutional, Manus Island detention centre and the fate of the several hundred men in it, is coming to a head.

The Australian government is ramping up its efforts to close the centre by the end of October, demolishing the centre around the several hundred men it is leaving stranded on Manus Island.

The several hundred men on Manus Island, still detained after more than four years, scattered red petals over pictures of Rajeev Rajendran on the evening of October 2.

A hand-drawn banner, illuminated by flickering candles, spelled out the mood of the memorial.

Below a picture of Rajendran the men wrote: “R.I.P. We are all in the queue. How many more you want to kill?”

The men in Manus Island detention began their 59th day of protest on September 29, days after a handful of their friends left for the US. They held their tired arms above their heads in a cross, a gesture that has become symbolic of refugee protests in detention.

About 25 of the several hundred men on Manus Island have being offered settlement in the US.

When Australia began forcibly moving people out of Manus Island detention centre to East Lorengau and Port Moresby in August, peaceful protests were launched in the detention centre.

When Australia cut off the power and water, people continued to defiantly protest.

When a detainee, Hamed, was found dead, his body beaten and hung from a tree near the East Lorengau transit centre, a vigil was held for him and the protests continued.

Federal immigration minister Peter Dutton has come up with a new act of cruelty against asylum seekers: he is trying to force people now in Australia back to danger in Nauru and Manus Island.

Dutton has invented a new class of visa — the final departure bridging E-visa — which cuts income support from asylum seekers already living in the community. They have been given six months to arrange to either go back to their home countries or be sent back to offshore detention.

Hamed Shamshiripour, a 31 year old Iranian refugee, died on August 7 as a direct result of Australia’s detention system. He is the sixth man to die on Manus Island since the detention centre was opened in 2012, according to Monash University’s Australian Border Deaths database.

On July 19, 2013, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd stood beside Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and said in a classical Rudd pretentious drone: “You won’t be settled in Australia. You’ll be sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea for reprocessing and resettlement.”

Effective immediately, everyone who came by boat seeking asylum would never be given protection in Australia.

There have been numerous instances of human rights abuses since the Nauru detention centre was reopened in 2013 and then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that no refugee who arrived by boat would ever be given safety in Australia. The Guardian’s Nauru Files give detailed accounts of children being assaulted, women sexually abused by guards and suicide attempts laughed at.

In March last year people in the Nauru detention centre began a daily protest that lasted for 240 days.

Some 50 activists played protest games, sang and danced in the Commonwealth Bank’s foyer in Sydney on July 24. Stop Adani Sydney spokesperson Rada Germanos told Green Left Weekly: “We’re playing games in the Commonwealth Bank’s Sussex Street foyer calling on it to stop playing games with our collective future and pull out of funding the Adani Carmichael coal mine [in Queensland].” 

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