refugee rights

The emergency on Manus Island has sparked a renewal in the refugee rights movement, with large numbers of new activists coming to their first demonstrations. It has also inspired a range of creative direct actions, including acts of civil disobedience, which have complemented the large protests in the major cities and significant protest actions across regional towns and centres.

Seven facts about the crisis in the Manus Island detention centre that the media refuse to report.

Hundreds of refugee activists gave a voice to the men in the abandoned Manus Island detention centre at a rally in Perth on November 5 organised by the Refugee Rights Action Network WA.

The 600 men remaining on Manus Island have been deprived food, water and medical aid since the centre’s closure on October 30.

They read out messages from six of the men using a ‘human microphone’, when one person reads a sentence and the crowd repeats it. Below are the messages they read out.

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.

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.

“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.

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.

The action was organised by Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA), Disrupt 2017 and Refugee Action Collective (Victoria).

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.

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