Zebedee Parkes

Chasing Asylum
Directed by Eva Orner
Selected cinemas

Chasing Asylum is a new documentary that shows the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres for the “Hell on Earth” and “human dumping grounds” they are.

Thousands of people took part in the Newcastle #BreakFree2016 protest that stopped coal exports in Newcastle for the day.

Photos:

Several hundred people rallied outside the department of immigration in Sydney on April 29.

They were part of nation-wide #BringThemHere actions, demanding the federal Coalition government bring the 850 asylum seekers and refugees currently in Manus Island Detention Centre to Australia.

Earlier in the week, the PNG Supreme Court had ruled that the detention centre was in breach of its constitution.

Aboriginal activist and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Ken Canning said: "The way this government is treating these people, a lot of them will die — and that is murder."

After three years of murders, hunger strikes, mass protests and forcing people to live in some of the worst conditions imaginable, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled on April 26 that detaining asylum seekers in the Manus Island Detention Centre is a breach of the country’s constitution.

In the same week, Omid, an Iranian refugee who had been forcibly resettled on Nauru, self-immolated in front of UNHCR inspectors because he could not “take it anymore”.

Sun filters through as a golden blur in low-resolution photos and a few seconds of shaky video clips — evoking the difficulty of getting footage of a protest the Nauru government does not want you to see.

But even with three fences in the way, you can still see the 144 asylum seekers, including children, who are protesting against their detention in the Nauru Regional Processing Centre.

I moved to Sydney at the start of this year. For months I have spent every Sunday I'm not working rushing around the Inner West being interviewed as a flatmate, only to suffer rejection after silent rejection.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton announced on April 2 that for the first time in a decade there were no children in Australian detention centres. “When I got the call,” he said, “it was something I was proud of.”

With the announcement came news that 196 of the 267 asylum seekers who lost the High Court case challenging the government's legal right to deport them to Nauru would be moved to community detention in Australia.

That the Australian government can find $6 million to fund a film aimed at convincing asylum seekers to not come to Australia and yet cut more than $50 million from Screen Australia speaks volumes about its priorities.

Yingiya Mark Guyula, a spokesperson for the Yolngu Nations Assembly, will stand as an independent candidate for the seat of Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory elections in August.

He kicked off a national Treaty awareness and fundraising speaking tour with a meeting in Darwin on March 7, before speaking in Adelaide, Geelong, Melbourne and Sydney. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Peter Robson in Darwin and Zebedee Parkes in Sydney.

* * *

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

“Thank you for these protests. We love you and our hearts are with you in this moment.”

This message was sent from a refugee inside Northam Detention Centre in West Australia to activists who were protesting outside in 2014.

Messages like this inspire many of us to get active and persist with campaigns to make the world more humane.

A whole generation, to which I belong, has only known mandatory detention: it was introduced by “left” Labor immigration minister Gerry Hand in 1992.

Pages

Subscribe to Zebedee Parkes