Iranian refugee Majid Rabet could not hold back his tears as he recounted the details of the suicide of his best friend, an Iraqi refugee, in Villawood Detention Centre. “I was the first person who went in the bathroom and saw he hanged himself. I lifted him upwards to keep him alive, but he was already dead,” Majid said.
Khodayar Amini, an Afghan Hazara asylum seeker who feared immigration authorities were planning to put him back in detention, has died after set himself alight on October 18. Amini had been released from Yongah Hill detention centre in Western Australia on a bridging visa after more than two years in detention. Shortly before killing himself, Amini spoke via video phone to Sarah Ross and Michelle Bui from the Refugee Rights Action Network (WA), telling them that he would rather kill himself rather than go back to detention.
Hundreds gathered outside the Immigration Department office in Melbourne on October 19, chanting, “Bring back Abyan” and “Close Nauru, close Manus”. Rallies were also held that day outside Immigration Department offices in Sydney and Darwin. In Brisbane, protesters targeted immigration minister Peter Dutton's office on October 21. Protests were also held in Canberra, Sydney and Perth on October 23 and Melbourne on October 24.
New revelations shed light on the cruelty being inflicted on refugees in Australia's offshore detention centres. They come just days after the Department of Immigration and Border Protection sent a pregnant Somali refugee woman back to Nauru where she had been raped. Abyan, as she is known, was transferred to Villawood detention centre on October 11 from Nauru where she was going to speak with doctors about her desire for a termination.
Staff at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane have followed in the footsteps of colleagues at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital and called for the immediate release of children being held in immigration detention centres.
The global refugee crisis has its roots in the wars waged by global powers for resources and territory. These conflicts have left millions of people displaced and driven hundreds of thousands to seek safety and protection in countries like Australia. Increasingly, climate change is becoming a second front of the refugee crisis as global food supplies are ravaged and sea level rises threaten the populations of island nations.
Sam (named changed) is a young refugee from Burundi who came to Australia in 2011 on a Protection Visa. However his visa has expired and the government wants to send him back. Burundi is currently engulfed by a civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. Unrest is growing because the opposition has accused President Pierre Nkurunzizi, a former Hutu leader, of violating the constitution that places a two-term limit on presidents. Nkurunzizi was re-elected for a third term in 2015.
Carol Hucker worked on Manus Island as a counsellor for International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) and as a case worker for the Salvation Army from June 2013 to July last year. She has allowed Green Left Weekly to publish her account so that people can become more aware of what is happening on Manus Island. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.” This is the second part of a multi-part series and covers September 2013. * * *
The Border Force Act came into force on July 1. Under this Act, people working in immigration detention centres risk two years’ jail for disclosing evidence of the horrendous, inhumane conditions in those places.
More than 40 social workers, doctors, nurses, teachers and humanitarian staff who have worked inside Australia’s detention centres have signed an open letter challenging the government to prosecute them for disclosing abuses at detention centres. They have united in a show of defiance against the Border Force Act, which came into force on July 1, the day their letter was published. The Act criminalises the disclosure or recording of information about abuse occurring at detention centres.
The Bring Back Asha campaign continues to grow. A snap rally at Sydney Town Hall on June 30, hosted by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, had 300 demonstrators making a sea of white balloons and placards, listening to speakers condemning the return of baby Asha (not her real name) and her parents to the immigration detention centre on Nauru.
Refugee activists organised a float in the Perth pride parade on November 23 to raise awareness of the discrimination queer refugees face on Manus Island. About 50 people took part in the float, dressed as prison guards and detainees in bright orange jumpsuits. The float was organised by an alliance of queer activists and refugee advocates, and attracted a broad group of people. Refugees living in detention on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea face a possible 14-year prison term if they disclose they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.