If there is one thing I have learnt from being involved in this campaign over the past decade, it is that seeing people protesting, known that someone cares about you and is watching, has always made a difference to people suffering in detention.
“This place is like a war zone,” wrote Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian journalist locked up in the Manus Island detention centre, as he exhaustedly began to describe the situation on November 2 – day 2 of the “Manus Island siege”.
Since October 31, 600 desperate men, suffering in more ways than most people can comprehend after more than four years of torture in detention, have barricaded themselves in the centre.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s enthusiastic embrace of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is reprehensible, the Tamil Refugee Council said on November 2.
Refugee advocates occupied Melbourne’s Spring St on October 25 in solidarity with the asylum seekers of Manus Island, who have been abandoned by the Australian government.
After the defeat in the Federal Court of his bid to ban mobile phones in offshore immigration detention centres, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) Peter Dutton is trying another strategy to subvert the court’s August ruling.
Mobile phones are already prohibited in onshore immigration detention centres and on Christmas Island for refugees who tried to come to Australia by boat.
The federal government has awarded a lucrative contract running refugee facilities on Nauru to a Queensland-based engineering firm, despite the company having no experience in providing refugee services.
Canstruct International Pty Ltd has won the $8 million contract to run “garrison and welfare services” from November 1.
The move has been slammed by human rights groups.
Amnesty International accused Canstruct of taking up a “toxic contract” that profits from the abuse of asylum seekers.
Protests are continuing in Manus Island detention centre as refugees resist the Australian government's plans to move them to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre. Two refugees have died since August and numerous others have been attacked by locals in East Lorengau.
The walls of the National Gallery of Victoria ran red on October 14 as activist group the Artists’ Committee, an informal association of artists and arts workers opposed to the detention of asylum seekers, continued its project to pressure the National Gallery of Victoria to immediately end its contract with Wilson Security.
Wilson Security provides security services to both the gallery and Australia’s offshore detention facilities on Manus Island and Nauru and is known to have committed human rights abuses against asylum seekers and refugees.
After more than four years of systemic torture, six deaths and the Papua New Guinea Supreme court ruling its presence unconstitutional, Manus Island detention centre and the fate of the several hundred men in it, is coming to a head.
The Australian government is ramping up its efforts to close the centre by the end of October, demolishing the centre around the several hundred men it is leaving stranded on Manus Island.
The several hundred men on Manus Island, still detained after more than four years, scattered red petals over pictures of Rajeev Rajendran on the evening of October 2.
A hand-drawn banner, illuminated by flickering candles, spelled out the mood of the memorial.
Below a picture of Rajendran the men wrote: “R.I.P. We are all in the queue. How many more you want to kill?”