*Breaking* Protest on Manus

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Happening on Manus Island at the moment. A protest has also been held on Nauru and we will publish a video later.

From Kurdish Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani –

Manus prison is protesting now.All prisons are shouting to Australia that this place is illegal. We are saying that Australia exiled us to this hell by force, has kept us in this prison by force, by threatening us and with much humiliation.

We are asking for freedom. This is our right and the right of any human. We are saying : stop killing people,stop torturing people and stop your cruel policy. We are protesting in loud voices.
This protest shows that still we are alive and strong. We are determined to get our human rights. This protest shows that you can never defeat us and break our determination.

We are asking the world’s people, human rights organizations and independent media to hear our voice, to publicise our voice and think deeply about this inhumane policy that Australia is doing.

This protest is peaceful, the same as our big hungerstrike that we had last year. We don’t need violence because we know what is right. Australia put us in the jail and beat us because of our calling for freedom and our rights.
Australia must respect our peaceful protest at this time. Australia has responsibility for us.

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.

 

Behrouz Boochani Ends Tree Protest on Manus

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Behrouz photographed last night

[Update: Behrouz has released a statement regarding his protest]

Prisoner in Australia’s offshore immigration detention system Behrouz Boochani has come down from the tree he had climbed to resist relocation which would see him on a path way to settlement in PNG.

In a unprecedented and illegal move PNG immigration advised Behrouz that he had received positive refugee status, despite him never having applied for refugee status in PNG.

This seems to be because of his high profile as a journalist and writer reporting from inside the tortuous camp on Manus Island.

After ending his protest he is still Foxtrot, the compound he has been in for 3 years.

He came down from the tree on the condition the ‘immigration boss’ meet with hm and he would not be moved.

Most of the others who refused to apply have been moved to a compound with men who have a negative refugee assessments.

Behrouz in an earlier statement says “I have never accepted their positive result. I want to show to all people that their process is fake. Where would you find an asylum seeker who would rather be in a ‘negative’ prison than be found to be a refugee? Only in Manus.”

Last night Behrouz sent Researchers Against Pacific Black Spots a statement:

“I arrived in Australia 3 years ago and asked Australia for asylum under international law. The Labor government of Australia exiled me to their prison camp in Manus Island PNG by force. I have been imprisoned here for almost 3 years and have been under a lot of pressure to fill in the protection application in PNG but I have constantly denied to do so. I did not arrive in PNG and did never give the PNG government my case for asylum. I have never wanted to resettle in this country.

This is part of my fight. I have worked hard and tirelessly during the last 3 years to send out Manus voice. I wrote lots of articles and pieces in my real name and fake name. I have worked hard with film-makers, fellow journalists, organisations and lawyers but now I want to send out Manus voice by my body. I don’t have any other way”.

Guardian Australia contacted the Australian Immigration Department they are reported as saying they are aware of the incident and local authorities were onsite “to ensure the ongoing safety and welfare of the individual concerned”.

 

 

Arbitrary refugee decisions expose Manus assessment farce

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Via Refugee Action Coalition

Despite various threats over the years that they would be denied protection and deported, around 60 asylum seekers on Manus Island have consistently refused to make an application to the PNG government for protection.

Their argument was simple – they arrived in Australia and asked Australia for protection, not PNG; they were transferred by Australia to PNG, against their will; any assessment in PNG does not have legitimacy and in any case, PNG is not able to provide protection.

The UNHCR has refused to be part of refugee assessments on PNG and the assessment is not recognised by any other countries. The looming constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court seems to have prompted a number of hasty organisational changes, like attempting to separate refugees from asylum seekers with negative decisions inside the detention centre.

In their efforts to intimidate asylum seekers and refugees, the PNG immigration department has arbitrarily set the end of June as a final date for all refugee determinations.

Around 45 of the asylum seekers have now been given a negative refugee assessment despite never having made an application (see See here). This is a move to try and force the asylum seekers to comply with the shonky system Australia has set up in PNG.

However, one of those who has never made an application, an Iranian asylum seeker, Behrouz Boochani, has been notified that he has been found to be a refugee. Boochani is a high profile asylum seeker; a dissident Iranian journalist who has been adopted by the international journalist association, PEN, as a political prisoner detained by Australia.

“It is obvious that the Australian government is hoping to separate the most high profile asylum seeker from others who have refused to give any legitimacy to their transfer or to the processing arrangements on Manus,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Boochani and others were sent a demand letter last October (See here), which went unanswered.

Boochani is angry at the refugee decision and says he regards it as “illegal”. He has demanded an explanation of his positive decision given that he has made no application. His complaint letter says that he had already said, “…that I do not want to give my case to PNG and I do not want to PNG immigration to investigate my case.”

Lawyers in PNG are seeking to raise the issue at the next directions hearing in regard to the Supreme Court challenge in Port Moresby tomorrow, Thursday, 21 April.

To highlight the arbitrary nature of the processing and the lack of transparency, three asylum seekers who made applications and had been given positive assessments a year ago, have now been advised they are negative. They are seeking to appeal the negative decision.

Meanwhile the separation of those found to be refugees from those with initial negative decisions has resulted in serious over-crowding in several compounds. Delta now has over 244 people with more scheduled to come. There are already four people in each room; with no improvement in showers or toilets despite the increase in numbers.

“Australian and PNG immigration are resorting to more desperate measures to deal with a system that is in increasing disarray. The arbitrary decisions regarding those who have refused to cooperate with the system in PNG has further exposed the punitive conditions of offshore detention.

“Refugee determination is corrupt; there is no resettlement; conditions inside the detention centre deteriorate day by day,” said Ian Rintoul.

“The only way to end the farce and end the misery inflicted on those sent there by Australia, is to close Manus Island.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

Refugees Plight Compounded

[UPDATE: Men have been told they will be moved on April 6]

Men on Manus Island and refugee advocates are reporting that Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield) plan to transfer detainees between the compounds of the detention centre.

The plan is to separate those with a positive refugee status and those with a negative status.

Those with a positive status will be moved to Delta and Oscar compounds while those with a negative status will be moved to Foxtrot and Mike.

Reportedly they will be informed in the morning.

As the men in detention in Manus have been in the same place for almost 3 years their fellow detainees have become close almost like family.

The thought of being separated from those friends is causing much distress.

One refugee advocate who is in touch with many detainees reports that some are very angry while others say there is no hope and suicide is the only way out.

One man told me –

They are going to transfer me and I don’t know where, It will be very bad for me.

A trusted source has stated that extra security is coming and Papua New Guinea police will be on hand, workers have been asked to stay an extra week.

This may be because trouble is expected but also the presence of these guards/police will likely cause trouble just as much as it would prevent it.

Detainees have said that it is the PNG Mobile Squad who will be present.

They’ve also been told if they resist they will spend 2 days in ‘Chauka’ described by human rights defender, journalist and Manus detainee as a torture room.

After that they will be sent to Lorengau jail for 1 month, men taken there last year were allegedly tortured.

Motive behind the transfers

There are a few reasons why authorities have decided to move these men who are essentially prisoners in a concentration camp.

One of those is men positive refugee status have been refusing to leave the camp, because they fear life in the community in PNG.

The compounds they will be moved to Delta and Oscar are said to be infamous for their ‘cruel imprisonment’.

This could prompt these positive refugees to agree to be transferred to East Lorengau Refugee Resettlement Camp the first step towards living in the PNG community.

This process is problematic for many reasons.

Also this moving around could cause those with negative refugee outcome to decide to return to their home country. The refugee determination process is not a fair one and we know Australia has returned men to their home countries who have then been tortured or killed.

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Attempted Suicide at Offshore Australian Refugee Camp

from the Refugee Action Coalition

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For the third time in two weeks, there has been an attempted suicide by Manus Island asylum seekers trying to drown themselves.

Today, Tuesday 13 April, a man believed to be an African asylum seeker ran into the sea about 1pm Manus Island time.

He was apparently rescued by Wilson security guards.

Two Lebanese asylum seekers also tried to drown themselves on 28 April.

Meanwhile tensions are again mounting as Transfield continues to try to re-introduce local PNG workers who were involved in the attack that killed Reza Barati and left scores of others seriously injured, back into the detention centre.

Since the attack on 17 February, the local PNG workers have been only been employed outside the compound fences.

Attempts to put them into the compounds have been successfully resisted by the asylum seekers.

However, there are almost daily threats against the asylum seekers as groups of locals gather at the fences to make throat-cutting or shooting gestures towards them.

“They [immigration] are pushing for the guys who attacked us to come back into the compound,” one asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition from Manus Island, “But we are very opposed to this.

“We are very afraid that they will attack us again.”

“Manus Island must be closed,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “The Minister has admitted that he cannot guarantee the safety of the asylum seekers on Manus Island.

“Those responsible for the killing of Reza Barati are still on the government payroll.

“Every day the asylum seekers are left on Manus Island is one more day asylum seekers are exposed to the possibility of a reprisal attack.

“Ending offshore processing would also add billions to the budget bottom line.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713

 

Injury from attack on centre

 

 

Manus Island Injuries

Manus Detainees Seek Witness Protection

  • In other news – Major upgrades to security at the Manus Island detention centre, including the installation of CCTV cameras and better fencing, had been recommended by the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders three months before the deadly riots in February, but were not acted on, new documents show.

“It is clear the Minister failed to act.”

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image: Despina Kiriakidis from the site the the arrivalists: writing from within detention
By Michael Gordan
Originally published in The Age

Lawyers acting for asylum seekers who say they witnessed the killing of Reza Barati at the Manus Island detention centre in February have launched a High Court action to have them placed in protective custody in Australia.

The asylum seekers, who are still to be interviewed by Papua New Guinea police investigating Mr Barati’s death, say they have received death threats and fear for their safety while they remain in the centre.

A writ issued on Wednesday also accuses the Australian and PNG governments of committing crimes against humanity by exposing asylum seekers to arbitrary and indefinite detention in “tortuous, inhuman and degrading conditions”.

The action is aimed at securing the return of the asylum seekers to Australia for processing and preventing any more being sent to PNG. It will be vigorously defended by the Abbott government.

The legal action coincides with renewed tensions at the facility, amid speculation that several asylum seekers will be told their claims for refugee status have been rejected.

One Iranian was told on Wednesday that he had received a “positive initial assessment” and “may be eligible to participate in more activities in the PNG community”. But a letter to the asylum seeker said this did not mean he was a refugee, and a final decision would be made by PNG immigration minister, Rimbink Pato.

Mr Barati was killed and more than 60 others were injured when PNG nationals entered the centre on the night of February 17 armed with machetes, guns and other weapons.

Lawyers acting on behalf of 354 of around 1300 asylum seekers being held in the Manus Island facility have also called for a royal commission-style inquiry into arrangements, events and conditions at the centre.

They are seeking an urgent hearing on the application for the asylum seekers to be given witness protection. One of the witnesses, who says he can identify most of those involved in Mr Barati’s death, has already told a PNG court that he fears for his life if he reveals what he saw on February 17. He says PNG guards, PNG locals and expatriate Australians were involved in the death.

Lead counsel Jay Williams took detailed statements from the witnesses before being deported from PNG last month, but the asylum seekers have refused to speak to police investigating Mr Barati’s death until their safety can be guaranteed.

Instructing solicitor Ruth Hudson, who is senior associate with the Sydney law firm Stacks Goudkamp, said the action by the PNG government to shut down a human rights inquiry initiated by PNG judge Justice Cannings underscored the case for an inquiry to be established in Australia. She proposed that former High Court judge Michael Kirby head the inquiry.

Among the claims made in the writ filed on Wednesday are that the asylum seekers were forcibly deported from Australia in violation of international law and have been detained without access to legal representation, judicial review or a fair hearing.

They say they have been exposed to murder, attempted murder, threats of cannibalism, grievous bodily harm and other “gross humanitarian violations”. A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said it would not be appropriate to comment on matters before the courts.