A merciless fear provoked by last night’s events has gripped the Manus Island camp

A merciless fear provoked by last night’s events has gripped the Manus Island camp

Originally Published in The Guardian.

Behrouz Boochani is a journalist and an Iranian refugee held on Manus Island since August 2014. The Guardian invited Boochani to keep a diary of the countdown to the closure of the Australian-run detention camp that closed on Tuesday.

Wednesday 1 November

Last night the refugees were in a state of absolute exhaustion, starvation and thirst. They drifted into sleep as they wasted away. We have not been able to sleep well during recent months; the possibility of sleeping at night has been completely disrupted, particularly in recent weeks. Nightmares have been an inseparable part of our sleep and our lives. After the generators in Oscar compound have been shut off, many have left their hot tents and moved into other camps. As people are moving to other camps I observe this horrendous scene playing out before me. Their movements resemble people who are left wandering due to war, but it is people seeking refuge in a neighbouring country.

Rooms and tents are crammed with people, and the atmosphere is filled with tumult and a deafening ruckus. It is a tropical ecosystem out here, full of insects and oppressively hot. Without the benefits of having power, insects chew into the skin. The constant, unbearable fear is provoked by the events last night. This relentless fear continues to haunt us, a merciless fear has gripped the camp. Fear of being attacked, fear of being murdered. We decide to assign some people to watch the camp and inform others in case something suspicious happens or police attacks us.

Nevertheless, if any incident occurred last night, would there have been a place for us to take refuge? Surely not. And this is the reality of Manus today. If we are attacked, we will be nothing but a group of defenceless bodies. It took a long time for everyone to fall asleep, or maybe they were just pretending to sleep. Sleeping with absolute exhaustion, sleeping with starvation, sleeping with thirst. This is the most disastrous situation ever.

At 7am in the morning, the generators suddenly shut off. Subsequently, all refugees wake up at the same time. After a few minutes, dozens wander around the camp again. The heat is unbearable out here. This is hell out here. Hunger makes everyone angry, the atmosphere is full of tension out here, and there is struggle and tumult. In these tragic circumstances, a refugee has cut his wrist and his chest using a razor. It has agitated the situation even more for a while. It is like throwing a match into gunpowder, adding fuel to the fire. Shouts come up and tension rise. It takes a while until the situation becomes stable again. But the fear remains.

 When the power is cut off the water in the toilets is also automatically cut off. This means the toilets have become even filthier. They stink to high heaven, it is extremely annoying and debasing. It is so humiliating. I have witnessed with my own eyes how a human being can degrade another human being, using toilets as a technology of torture. It is utterly disturbing when one comes to the realisation of the cruel machinations of a human being, of what a human being is capable of.

At 9am PNG immigration officers come and tell us: “You have to leave this place, there is no way you can stay.” However, it is very dangerous outside. In the past, refugees have been attacked several times, even the police cannot guarantee their safety. We are stuck here, no way to go forward, no way to go back.

Senator Nick McKim comes to see us again. He tries to enter the camp, but immigration officers threaten him in a manner that resembles a form of faux respect: “If you do not leave here within five minutes, you will be arrested.” He has to go. It is like a war zone here and people have become refugees all over again. They have become homeless in the detention centre; their faces are frightened, distressed and weary. Their eyes … their eyes are looking up at the sky, they are looking up at the clouds. Looking forward to rain. If it rains, the weather will cool down. Also, they can save water. They have trust in the Manusian ecosystem. It is a tropical ecosystem out here; it will rain in the evening for sure. Nature will not abandon us. Right now, there are hundreds of men out here with their clothes stripped off, they are wandering around.

We have no idea what will happen tonight. It is both horrific and surreal when the threat of an attack and abandonment is fused with extreme starvation, thirst and instances of self-harm. The worst part of this oppression and debilitation is the humiliation. Throughout this whole ordeal we have been utterly debased. The situation in the toilets, the lack of food and water, the insulting visits by Australian and local representatives and guards, the looting of out belongings, the abandonment … the abandonment … It is humiliating to be thrown into this prison space for years and now left to deteriorate.

There is a rumour in this camp that the navy is ready to attack. The fear is unbearable. We have taken control of the camp and refuse to be forced into a place we are not wanted and where we do not feel safe at all. However, even though we have experienced a glimmer of autonomy by deciding to stay here against all odds, it is like we are now living under the sword of Damocles. The edge of the sword is looming over our heads.

I am worried about my physical health. I have become very weak over this past week. I have not slept. I am extremely concerned about my whole state of being. I am no longer afraid of experiencing nightmares as I sleep. I am now undergoing a surreal experience where the horrifying reality of my waking state has taken on the characteristics of the most harrowing nightmare, and this nightmare is more horrendous than I can ever imagine.

  • Translated by Moones Mansoubi

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Equal Love 4 All

Equal Love 4 All

There’s a lot of talk about equality lately, in Australia the same sex marriage postal plebiscite vote survey is causing a lot of discussion hate speech and harm to LGBTIQA+ people.

This really is turning into a survey on acceptance not just marriage. And will having same sex marriage mean all LGBTIQA+ people reap the benefit? We speak to Nick a genderqueer activist from occupied Wurundjeri land, so-called Melbourne. (41mins in)

Also Peter K our ephemeral anarchist commentator gives a talk on a number of current issues which involve equality. (5 mins)

And who are Chumbawamba and what are they all about?

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Riverfire: War is not entertainment

fireworks

Riverfire 2016

4.30pm 2x ARH Tigers and 2x MRH 90 Taipan from ARMY Aviation Oakey performs a 15 minute display in the South Brisbane and Town Reaches of the Brisbane River.

5.15pm 2x ARH Tigers and 2 x MRH 90 Taipan from ARMY Aviation Oakey performs a 15 minute display in the South Brisbane and Town Reaches of the Brisbane River.

What are ARH Tigers?

The Airbus Helicopters Tiger is a four-bladed, twin-engined attack helicopter. Tigers have been used in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali. TO KILL PEOPLE.

Fires Hellfire II air-to-ground missiles. TO KILL PEOPLE.

Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System guidance kit for use with the ARH’s 70mm FZ unguided rockets was successfully trialed in 2014. TO KILL PEOPLE.

Aside from this they’ve pretty much been a dud and huge waste of money (much like the current government).

These are different helicopters, but still they are made to do stuff like this.

What are the MRH 90 Taipans?

Designed to carry troops to war zones. TO KILL PEOPLE.

They’ve also been plagued with problems and a huge waste of money (much like the proposed same sex marriage plebiscite).

5.40pm 1 x FA18 Super Hornet from RAAF Amberley performs a 10 minute display in the South Brisbane and Town Reaches of the Brisbane River.

7.04pm 1 x FA18 Super Hornet from RAAF Amberley performs fly over to mark the commencement of Sunsuper Riverfire.

What is the FA18F Super Hornet?

This fighter jet has air combat capability for both air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground weapons. TO KILL PEOPLE.

The sound they produced would have been in excess of 100dB, up to a level high enough to cause pain to humans, which would definitely cause pain to animals whose ears are more sensitive.

It is made by Boeing one of the world’s leading manufacturers of arms. TO KILL PEOPLE.

Imagine being in a war zone and hearing these planes fly overhead perhaps firing missiles which are aimed at your location. TO KILL YOU.

These were presumably used by the RAAF when they ‘accidentally’  bombed Syrian troops in Syria. An incident which serves to drag Australia further into war with Syria and therefore its ally Russia.

These planes have also had their fair share of problems and been a waste of money (like locking refugees up on remote islands).

These are probably not the same planes but this is what war planes do. TO KILL PEOPLE.

7.05pm Sunsuper Riverfire Fireworks Commences
7.26pm Sunsuper Riverfire Fireworks Concludes

While fireworks aren’t military they cost a lot of money and create unnecessary noise.

The Queensland governments own website says this about the noise caused by fireworks.

Noise from fireworks can cause distress, especially as fireworks can sound like gunfire. The noise can also cause tinnitus and deafness, or aggravate a nervous condition.

People who suffer from asthma can experience discomfort and epileptics can experience seizures following fireworks displays.

When frightened by fireworks, horses and dogs have been known to injure themselves and others by running away, potentially causing accidents and damage to property.

Brisbane residents and animals have to deal with this noise especially those who live in inner city areas.

Inner city dwellers also have to also contend with road closures and crowds of firework frenzied visitors.

The wildlife seemed to disappear in New Farm on Saturday night.

The $16 million Riverfire spectacular reportedly featured 11 tonnes of fireworks and 300,000 – 500,000 people lined the Brisbane River on Saturday night.

And the whole thing only lasts for 15-20mins.

The environmental effects last longer however, the metal particles which give the fireworks their color can linger in the air for days.

This article from The Conversation goes into more details about the environmental costs of fireworks.

Our prettiest pollutant: just how bad are fireworks for the environment?

The bangs and fizzes of fireworks are rapidly replacing the chimes of Big Ben as the defining sound of New Year’s Eve celebrations in London, while around the world, city landmarks are becoming stages for increasingly spectacular pyrotechnic displays. Since the millennium, the popularity of fireworks has even extended into back gardens, where smaller fireworks or sparklers are lit up at the stroke of midnight.

Fireworks are great fun. We all enjoy guessing the colours of the rockets before they ignite in the sky, hearing the explosions echo off nearby buildings, or writing our names in light with hand sparklers.

But there is an environmental price to pay. Firework smoke is rich in tiny metal particles. These metals make firework colours, in much the same way as Victorian scientists identified chemicals by burning them in a Bunsen flame; blue from copper, red from strontium or lithium, and bright green or white from barium compounds.

There is more smoke from potassium and aluminium compounds, which are used to propel fireworks into the air. Perchlorates are also used as firework propellants; these are a family of very reactive chlorine and oxygen compounds, which were also used by NASA to boost space shuttles off the launch pad.

Terrific, but toxic

Fireworks can lead to substantial air pollution problems. There are well documented examples from cites around the world. In Spain, metal particle pollution from Girona’s Sant Joan fireworks fiesta can linger in the city for days. Across India’s cities, the annual Diwali fireworks cause pollution that is far worse than Beijing on a bad day.

Guy Fawkes is regularly the most polluted day of the year in the UK, although scientists from King’s College London have found that pollution from bonfires – the traditional way of marking Guy Fawkes – is also a part of this mixture. Fireworks can have significant effects on air pollution in enclosed spaces, too. In Germany, tests have shown how goal and match celebrations with flares, smoke bombs and other pyrotechnics can fill football stadiums with high concentrations of airborne particles.

And of course, what goes up has to come down. Fireworks that fall to the ground contain residues of unburnt propellants and colourants, while particle pollution in the air eventually deposits on the ground or gets washed out by rain. Some of this finds its way into lakes and rivers , where percolate has been linked to thyroid problems, causing limits to be set for drinking water in some US states. This is a major concern for lakeside resorts and attractions that have frequent firework displays.

Researchers in London have collected airborne particles from Diwali and Guy Fawkes. These were found to deplete lung defences far more than pollution from traffic sources, suggesting a greater toxicity. Across India, Diwali fireworks have been linked to a 30% to 40% increase in recorded breathing problems. Like New Year’s Eve, fireworks are a relatively new phenomenon at Diwali.

Traditionally, Diwali was celebrated with the lighting of ghee burning lamps – but this changed with the opening of India’s first firework factory in 1940. An Indian court petition is demanding better public safety information and restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks – but this came too late to limit the smog caused by this year’s celebrations.

Playing it safe

Some simple steps can be taken to reduce our exposure to firework pollution. For one thing, setting them off in enclosed spaces is a very bad idea, as are hand-held sparklers. Positioning crowds upwind of fireworks displays is another obvious way of reducing their negative health impacts.

Yet fireworks are already the largest manufactured source of some types of metal particles in the UK atmosphere. And the proportion of pollution from fireworks will only increase, as huge investments are made to reduce other sources of urban pollution. Particle filters are present on nearly all modern diesel vehicles and factory emissions across the developed world are continually being tightened – but firework pollution remains unchecked.

Perhaps the best way to tackle the pollution caused by fireworks is not to have them at all. But this seems rather extreme (not to mention a lot less fun). The high-precision, controlled displays that we see at international landmarks on New Year’s Eve demonstrate the great innovation of the fireworks industry. It’s time for this innovative approach to be applied to reduce the environmental impact of fireworks, so that we can continue to enjoy the excitement of displays for years to come.

Author: Gary Fuller.

A Statement from Omid’s Family

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Omid’s funeral notice in Iran

Omid was an Iranian refugee who set himself on fire in Nauru on 27 April. He died in a Brisbane hospital on 29 April. Omid’s funeral was held in Iran yesterday, 20 May. The following is a statement from his family:
“Our hope is gone! Omid is gone forever. He was only 24. “Omid” means “hope” in Persian. His father named him Omid because his birth gave hope, excitement, and life to his small family.

As a child, Omid was so sweet and cute. He loved animals very much. He had built up a small shelter in his house where he kept his pets; they were just like his close friends.


Our Omid had it all: warm, friendly, always smiling, witty, and athletic ability. He was a lifeguard and saved a couple of children. Those kids still come to visit us. His friends describe him as a trustful, amiable, warm, and lovely fella. He was happy and joyful; full of life. It was impossible not to laugh when he was around.


Omid had a catchy slogan that everyone remembers: all his goodbyes were followed by this: “Chakeretam, Nokaretam”, a saying in Persian which implies: you can always count on me for everything. “Chakeretam, Nokaretam”, coming from his mouth, with a broad smile, while he was holding his cap with one hand and tapping your shoulder with the other hand.


There is no word that can express how bitter is his loss for us. Our Omid is gone, our hope is dead; so unbelievable, so sudden! We were counting on him, like always, like what he was saying every time; counting for better future, counting for sweet coming moments.

Omid was doing well, enduring hardships for better future. What happened to Omid’s hope? Who has taken his hope? Who has taken our hope, our Omid? Who has made the life so bitter for him? We lost our Omid, our hope. Who has made the life so bitter for us? The endless bitterness . . .”

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To UNHCR from Refugees on Nauru

NAURU IMAGES

To:

United Nation High Commission for Refugees

From:

Refugees on Nauru

Dated: 12/5/2016

Humble Words of Refugees on Nauru

  1. We are detained and imprisoned for the last three years on this island. We want freedom and freedom is everyone’s basic right. We are like living corpses, we are free in a sense that we can walk, talk and eat but living aimless and hopeless lives which are resulting refugees in mental issues and disturbed social lives.

    19thJuly, 2013 Government of Australia announced this harsh policy to send helpless and vulnerable people seeking asylum in Australia to offshore (PNG and Nauru) and everyone was told that no one coming after this policy is going to resettle in Australia, but same boat and same policy people are living and started peaceful and beautiful lives in community and we are asking what about us?? Do we have to live life without any future?? Are we not that same policy and boat people who are living in Australia community??

  1. The most important thing is refugees are not mentally, socially, physically and economically safe here. Refugees are in conditions here which led them mentally so unsafe and unsound that no one can focus on the daily life. Three years staying away from the family on this small and remote Island and even small more isolated place like in different accommodation sites (because refugees avoid going out in community to avoid any incident) with lots of problems making refugees mentally on risk. Socially we are living our isolated lives for the last three years.

    Local Nauruan people just treat us not more than their source of income. All of us are scared to go outside of our accommodation sites but still we have to go and get our necessities and we faced heaps of incidents which are reported and still pending to be taken action but we can say it for sure there will be no action on those as to date there is none because of the corrupt and lack of law and order. Refugees are economically exploited as the locals Nauruan people know that we are in situation that we need to work and it makes them easy to exploit and disvaluing our skills. We are getting $ 200.00 fortnightly from connect settlement services which is too small and insufficient to get the basic needs as per survey of the stake holders itself.

    Hence to summarize it, it will be like here there is no law, everyone here is trying to disgrace and degrade us. Some are beating us up, and the law makers are pushing us in all these situations instead they know this situation very well. Whoever wants, they just beat us up, take our money, loot our belongings and possessions and disgrace us and if we report it there is no one to take action or follow it up, so we are tired to report such like incidents now because every one is sure that nothing is going to happen and there is one more interesting fact behind so many cases that’s unreported as reporting it could raise another problem which is, if the local Nauruan who is doing something wrong to any refugees is reported, he will make problems for that refugee in future or will beat him/her and there are lots of cases like this.

  1. WHY WE LEFT OUR COUNTRY???

    We left our country because of the security reasons; everyone here had some very good reasons to flee his/her country, which are political, social, religious, deprivation, discrimination and life persecution and threats, So we are facing more not least such like issues here.

  1. Like every person on the planet earth, we want to build our future, we have some future plans, we want to explore and advance our lives but we can’t see any life chances on this remote island. All we are struggling to get our daily life necessities because of the lack of the resources as the government administration is not even capable to look after their own local people. Life is not all about struggling for the basic needs, there is something more important to struggle for like education, career growth, self-esteem, social network, friends and family which we don’t have it here.

  2. We are systemically tortured mentally and physically for the past three years in the name of services. If this system is giving services to the refugees, why don’t they let the world see it? People who fled countries for their lives are giving up under this system in the name of services. Refugees are attempting suicides and trying to take their lives to ease themselves out of this suffering system.

  3. Our health issues are escalating day by day; here is no proper medical care. Everyday there is new viral disease and refugees are suffering from different health problems and because of the lack of medical care we are getting disables day by day. These medical issues and lack of care leaving people in frustration and badly affecting mental states.

  4. What is our sin?? Taking refuge in any country for a life is not a sin!!! Third country (New Zealand) offered to take refugees from Nauru but Government of Australia reject the offer. So what should we understand?? Is it like Government of Australia wants to torture vulnerable people!!! Is it like decision makers playing their dirty politics on helpless people for their lavish interests!!!

  5. Why we are treated so inhumanely??? Why the humanitarian organizations around the world (UNHCR, Amnesty International, US Committee for Refugees) are the silent spectators on the inhumane treatment and harsh policy of Australian Government.

Australia and its Colonial Operations

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by Behrouz Boochani

Yesterday evening an Iranian man wanted to kill himself by cutting his neck. I posted some words about his action but people did not pay serious attention to him. I reported what was happening to him to media and other organisations.

This man claims that an Australian officer beat him and punched him. He wrote a complaint to the PNG police. He was very angry because after a few days he was still not able to access police and put his complaint to them. Yesterday, the officer who punched him was about to leave Manus and his complaint had not been given to the PNG police as he had asked.

This system and these companies, Broadspectrum and Wilson Security do not allow people access to the PNG police, they do not pass on our complaints either. Any staff member who commits a crime is assisted by these organisations and, I believe, the Australian government to leave Manus without going to court.

Remember the officers who raped a local Manusian woman. They were flown out of Manus and were never questioned or charged, or taken to the PNG court. Remember those staff members who helped Joshua to kill Reza Baratti? They were also flown off Manus and never returned to face court.

I, myself, had a suspicious accident when a basketball board fell on my head. I wrote several requests asking to access the PNG police so they could investigate. Again they did not pass on my request or allow me access to the PNG police.

I want to say that all of these happenings are because of colonial thinkings. Australia is exercising colonial power in and against PNG. We can see this too in Australia’s reaction after the PNG Supreme court hearing.

Australia does not want to accept the Supreme court order. Only in a colonial system can you commit a crime and not go to court.

Australia continues its colonial system against Aboriginal people in Australia and now also in PNG.

I believe that yesterday was a very important day because we understood clearly how the Australian government is ruling its prisons in Manus and Nauru under a colonial system.

 

Don’t use Kids to Protect Borders

Australia a Gated Community

As so called Australia looks back on Mother’s Day and the fun we had with our kids here’s some videos of kids and mothers on Nauru, people under Australia’s care. These kids should be enjoying their childhood but instead they are living in a climate of depression, despair and fear.

This video was made by a refugee on Nauru.

This video I made with pictures from Nauru