Reza Berati

Four years ago thousands of people lit candles in more than 750 locations across Australia to remember slain 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati and demand an end to Australia’s detention system.

It was the largest post-Howard government mobilisation for refugee rights to date.

At rallies across the country activists who had been in contact with people in Manus Island detention centre exposed the horrors of that night.

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.

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.

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”.

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