Manus Island and Nauru detention centres

Immigration officials told asylum seekers and refugees in Manus Island detention centre on May 15 that the centre will be closing, beginning on May 28 and completely shut down by October 31. This comes after a PNG supreme court last year ruled the detention centre was unconstitutional and must be closed.

The Australian government has refused to bring any refugees to Australia and is widely reported to be pressuring them to accept deportation with threats and bribes.

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.

Two asylum seekers who had been detained in Australia's offshore detention camps spoke at a forum organised by Refugee Action Collective Victoria on April 22.

Ravi, a Tamil asylum seeker from Sri Lanka now living in Australia, told the forum how he spent two years on Nauru after surviving a 22-day boat journey. He said he had left one "hell", as a former political prisoner in Sri Lanka, only to be sent to another "hell" on Nauru.

It is often said that truth is the first casualty of war. It is also one of the first casualties of maintaining a detention system that seeks to demonise people fleeing persecution and cover up human rights abuses.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton’s comments that refugees leading a five-year-old Papua New Guinean boy into the detention centre caused distress to locals and led to them firing into the air near the centre, is one of these lies.

In a live video on Twitter a man is speaking rapidly. He gives his name as “Maoud, my ID is GRL11”. Then he says: “The local guys attacked the camp and they just used the guns, they just shoot the gun. I don’t know what to do…” A gunshot is heard and he appears to duck, before looking up and saying “they just shoot”. Then the video cuts out.

As immigration minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull boast in front of a wall of Australian flags about how they have stopped the boats and saved lives at sea, the Australian Navy is turning boats back to danger.

US immigration officials have admitted it is possible that no one from the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres will be resettled in the US. Meanwhile, Australian border force officers have been ramping up deportations on Manus Island.

Many people suffering in Manus Island and Nauru detention centres are struggling to find hope that their situation will change. One such person is Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist who fled Iran and has become well known for his writings about life in the Manus Island detention centre.

Manus Island protests

A year after the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ordered that the Manus Island detention centre be closed, people are still living in the same compounds and sleeping in the same beds.

In the latest protest, as tensions simmer inside the detention centre, guards hastily withdrew from Mike Compound on March 18 after a protest erupted in the mess area following Border Force renovations that made the serving area more like a prison.

Australians overwhelmingly believe keeping asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru indefinitely is cruel, but are evenly split on whether they should be resettled in Australia. 

This was the result of a survey by Roy Morgan Research over February 18 to 19.

The poll found a majority of voters in Victoria (52%), NSW (51%) and Tasmania (58%) supported bringing those on Manus and Nauru to Australia.

A majority of voters in Queensland (53%), WA (57%) and SA (54%) opposed resettlement in Australia.

The Refugee Council of Australia called for a bipartisan commitment on offshore detention on February 1.

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The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has called on political leaders to urgently bring the people imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru to safety in Australia.

In the wake of another death on Manus Island, vigils are being held around the country and more than 200 refugees on Manus Island have signed a letter calling for a Royal Commission to fully investigate IHMS (the Manus detention medical provider contracted to the Australian government) and its political control by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

This week, brave teachers from across the country will bring a message of hope to their class rooms. They will declare that they support refugees — and especially those on Manus Island and Nauru.

The simple act of wearing a T-shirt with the words — “Teachers for refugees” on the front and “Close the camps, Bring them here” on the back — is enough to reinforce to thousands of students that there is an alternative to cruelty.

The Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizen’s Alliance and other refugee activists interrupted Question Time at 2pm on November 30 because there is no opposition to cruelty in our parliament.

We came to parliament because the Australian government has become a world leader in cruelty. 

Seven of us were superglued to the balustrade and 30 of us inside the chamber spoke in unison: “We are here today because you are all complicit in the murder, rape, torture and child abuse of refugees”. 

Refugee rights activists in the Illawarra dropped off nearly 300 postcards at the Wollongong office of local MP Sharon Bird on November 18.

The postcards call on Labor to close the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres and bring the refugees to Australia.

A report by UNICEF and Save the Children found operating the detention system on Nauru and Manus Island had cost $3.6 billion since the reintroduction of offshore processing in 2012.

The report said shutting offshore detention facilities would save $2 billion over four years.

Turnbacks are estimated to have cost nearly $300 million since Operation Sovereign Borders began.

Greens Senator Nick McKim speaking at the rally in Hobart.

Every day, people’s human rights are violated. In detention centres like those on Nauru and Manus Island, such violations are not just allowed but enforced by the Australian government. However, last month people stood together for nine hours to tell the Australian government that they would not accept it any longer. 

The vigil was held in the Hobart CBD from 10am to 7pm. People took turns reading to onlookers from the Nauru case files that were recently leaked by the Guardian. Others held placards and banners with messages of solidarity for the people in detention centres at Manus and Nauru. 

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