Messages from Manus
Messages from Manus
On 31st October 2017, more than 700 refugees were left without the necessities for life after Australia closed the Manus Island detention centre. The refugees had been imprisoned on Manus Island in the detention centre, some of them for four years as a result of Australia’s so-called PNG solution. Introduced in 2012, it was a policy of mandatory exclusion and indefinite detention and basically abolished the right to seek asylum in Australia.
When the PNG Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that the camp on Manus was illegal, Australia reacted by shutting it down and making the refugees the responsibility of PNG.
The Australian authorities cut off power, water and food supplies and told the refugees to leave and go to another centre, one unfinished centre currently built by the PNG government. However, most of the refugees do not want to move to another prison regardless of its status – they want asylum in a country that recognises the rights of refugees.
Within days of the closure of the camp the PNG navy blockaded the camp, denying food and water being delivered by supporters of the refugees.
Since then the situation has been deteriorating daily. Many refugees need medication but there is no medical care at all. With no running water, people are capturing rainwater in bins and have dug holes to find drinking water.
Most of the 700 people in the detention centre have undergone the process of claiming asylum and have been found to be genuine refugees. Others were still waiting for their applications to be processed when the camp closed.
Claiming asylum is a human right under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, to which both Australia and NZ are signatories. Australia’s policy of denying this right to people who arrive in Australia by boat is a clear violation of this convention. The refugees held on Manus or Nauru have not jumped a ‘queue’, nor are they in any way ‘illegal’. They have the right to seek asylum.
Now the refugees on Manus are in limbo. A PNG Court on 7th Nov ruled that the refugees are no longer under Australian jurisdiction. However, PNG authorities see no reason to make any provisions for the refugees, arguing that they didn’t bring them there. As one of the refugees said: “We are outside of any law.”
On 9th November, the PNG authorities removed the fence and issued an eviction notice to the refugees, giving them 24 hours to move to the other centres. Otherwise they would be forcibly removed. The refugees have continued resisting peacefully.
On 10th November the PNG immigration and police began to dismantle the camp, removing tents and destroying water supplies. The PNG authorities have said the refugees must leave the camp tomorrow, Saturday 11th November (PNG time).
The men on Manus are using as many means as possible to report what is happening in the centre. Below are excerpts from articles sent via Telegram (the words are their own):
Friday, 10 November
Things are going worse. The PNG immigration & police are in compound & removing the tents we use to cook food and stay in the day. Why they suffer me like this?
No shade now. Here weather always hot & raining a lot. Really they don't think about us like human being. Sometime I would like to be leave this world for ever.
They don't do anything without ABF [Australian Border Force] orders. Destroying water supply. ABF telling them every step before they do anything.
Thursday, 9 November
Under Australian supervision, fences are taken away, probably to take to unfinished & unfenced 'Camp 300" (West haus) & Hillside Haus.
Behrouz Boochani 12:44 PM - 9 Nov 2017: The refugees who already left RPC for Hillside are in harsh conditions, imprisoned in their rooms. Hillside is a real prison worse than RPC
Wednesday, 8 November
Omar Jack: 100 days peaceful protest. 8th day no power, food, water all services been cut by Aus Gov. but none died yet because people out there keep fighting 4 us
PNG has accepted the responsibility of all
detainees on manus. And Australia has no responsibility for
us anymore. In the coming days there is a session in Vietnam
that Peter O'Neill PNG PM will attend. Jacinda Adern New
Zealand PM attends too. NZ PM wants to talk about us with
PNG. It is the time that all of us (detainees, advocates and
people who support us) to write the prime minister of New
Zealand Jacinda Ardern to be very very serious and ask PNG
government to release us into the hands of new Zealand which
is ready to welcome us home.
Please share this message as much as you can and ask everyone to write the PM of NEW ZEALAND.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.
Monday, 6 November
The PNG Minister for Immigration said yesterday that some people here act as leaders to influence the others and stop them from moving to East Lorengau.
We made a video to show he is just trying to make excuses in the media.
Of course, all his words yesterday were just like ABF (Australia Border Force) telling him.
Some people moved outside and we didn't tell them anything ...
There's no leaders here.
We are just here coz we need a solution for our situation.
We didn't ask the Australian government to build another detention centre for us ...
Seeking asylum is not a Crime.
We haven't committed any crime to put us in prison for four years and half.
Yet still they want us to move to another detention centre after all the suffering and torture here.
We were brought here against our will and during the four years we got treated less than animals.
So, they are the one who are making crimes against our humanity and against the international laws ...
We decided to stand up this time and we are not going to move to anywhere else in this country that you brought us to against our will.
" Enough is enough "
Plz take us from this country coz we want to be out of this hell more than anyone...