A group of women asylum seekers share their reasons for seeking protection from Australia and their dismay and despair at being transferred to Manus Island. Their letters are reprinted below unedited. *** Letter 1 I am a 33 years old Iranian woman and I have a son, nine years old. We had to leave Iran because of the personal hardship that I experienced there.
A Tamil refugee living in Australia on a bridging visa died in a Fremantle hospital on January 5 from suicide. He had a wife and young daughter still in Sri Lanka, and was waiting for an outcome on his refugee status. It was his second suicide attempt. Refugee advocates in Perth said he had been tortured in Sri Lanka and his mental health deteriorated while in detention on Christmas Island and in the remote north Queensland Scherger base — where he first attempted suicide.
Britain is a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. But despite its international legal obligations as signatory to this and other human rights conventions, the reception granted to those knocking on Britain’s door in hope of protection is far from welcoming or humane. In fact, Britain appears to be doing everything in its power to keep its doors tightly closed to those often referred to as “scroungers,” “terrorists,” “economic migrants,” or other “bogus” refugees hiding behind a smokescreen of asylum ― adding deadbolts by the day.
An action was organised by the Refugee Action Coalition on November 23 to protest the re-opening of the Australian immigration detention camps in Manus Is (PNG) and Nauru. It was held outside the office of Tanya Plibersek, the federal minister for health, in Sydney. A letter of protest was delivered at the end of the action. Photos by Peter Boyle.
Labor is making a full-scale assault on the right of refugees to seek protection, as it continues to fill the Nauru detention camp, forcibly deport hundreds back to Sri Lanka before hearing their claims for asylum and keep thousands in perpetual limbo in the name of “deterrence”. Now, the federal government has revealed its plans for the almost 8000 people that have arrived seeking asylum by boat in recent months. The plan is worse than the extreme temporary protection visas introduced by the former John Howard Government.
This month is the start of the wet season on the tiny island of Nauru, where more than 370 refugees are being detained in Australian army tents that leak and do nothing to keep mosquitoes out. In these appalling conditions, more than 300 men are refusing food and some are refusing water in a bid to have the department of immigration hear their claims for asylum. That’s right — people that came to Australia exercising their legal and moral right to seek protection are on a hunger strike because the Australian government has decided to make an example of them.
The refugees now holding an indefinite hunger strike in the Nauru detention camp released the statement below on November 2, updating the situation and explaining that several have been taken to the medical room and some have lost conciousness. The first refugees began refusing food on the morning of November 1, and others quickly joined. *** Date:02/11/2012 Time:11:00 pm Fifteen Asylum seekers became unconscious on second day of Hunger Strike in Nauru Hell. Till 7 asylum seekers have been become unconscious and taken to the medical rooms.
The following “Appeal of asylum seekers” was released by refugees on Nauru on October 31. It was addressed to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australian MPs, the Nauru government, human rights commissions and the “rest of the world”. The men said on November 1 that they would begin a group hunger strike "for unknown time". "This is a clear message that we are not happy here, we want to go back from this Hell to Australia and we request to the Australia government to start our processing." ***
Refugees held in indefinite detention on Nauru shared the following letter on their Facebook page on October 26. They addressed it to human rights commissioners, communities of oppressed people and “world independent news channels”. It has been published with minimal edits. ***
The Sydney Refugees Action Coalition released the statement below on September 7. * * * A High Court decision this morning has dismissed an application of behalf of five asylum seekers seeking to extend judicial review to discretionary ministerial decisions. In a similar application (M61) in 2010, the High Court found that asylum seekers were entitled to judicial review of appeal decisions. The High Court judgment means that there is now no legal impediment to the government moving to deport a large number of asylum seekers.