How did Australia go from a place where its migrant hostels fostered some of the world’s most famous bands to one where the detentions centres it presides over are described as “hell on Earth”? Zebedee Parkes takes a look at the history of mandatory detention and the struggle against it.
A desperate rooftop protest by an Iranian refugee being held on Christmas Island was restarted on June 11 after being subjected to further inhumanity.
Ghazi (not his real name), and another refugee took to the roof of the detention centre in late May to protest the conditions and the lack of access to medical care. According to the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) both men had been in detention for over 3 years and were apparently taken to court and charged over an alleged incident prior to the May protest.
While the architect of Australia’s detention system Liberal Senator Jim Molan was rehearsing his lines to promote this cruel system on ABC’s Q&A, a woman was arrested for the crime of standing outside and peacefully holding a banner reading “Close the Camps, Bring Them Here”.
The Manus Island tragedy is the latest in a series of systemic human rights abuses by successive Australian governments in recent decades.
But there is another story: one of courageous resistance in some of the most hostile situations imaginable — a resistance led by several hundred people on Manus Island who are still protesting, still demanding “freedom, nothing less than freedom”.
Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time
Written & directed by Arash Kamali Sarvestani & Behrouz Boochani
Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time is a ground-breaking film that gives audiences a new window to look into Manus Island detention centre.
Australia’s refugee policy over the past 25 years has resulted in a detention process best described as “Hell on Earth”.
Mandatory detention was first introduced in May 1992 by the Labor government with the support of the opposition and has been marked with increasing human rights abuses including deliberate medical negligence, sexual assault by guards, self-immolation and murder.
It suffocates people’s hope, as many people have been in detention for more than four years with no certainty of ever being released.
This year marks 25 years of resistance to the escalating human rights abuses of Australia’s mandatory detention laws. A whole generation has now lived under this policy and are constantly exploring new and inspiring ways of rejecting it.
One area that has not been explored, at least in recent years, and that offers a lot of potential is campaigning for university campuses to become organising spaces, welcome zones and sanctuaries.
As the people on Manus Island prepared to see in the New Year, drunken immigration officials and police beat up asylum seekers who were then taken into police custody and denied food and medical treatment. PNG politician Ronny Knight responded by tweeting “They deserved what they got”.
Barely a week earlier Faysal Ishak Ahmed, a Somali asylum seeker in Manus Island detention centre, died on Christmas Eve after months of being denied adequate medical treatment.
Celebrations of multiculturalism happened in 26 cities and rural locations across Australia on October 22 as part of Welcome to Australia events organised under the theme of “Walking together to welcome refugees”.
In Sydney, helium balloons, musical performances, bright red shirts and smiles gave it a carnival like atmosphere. For some it would have been their first refugee rights event.