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Manus Roundup - refugees vs spin from Canberra

Well isn’t this a hell of a stand off!!

Tired, thirsty hungry refugees vs spin from the Canberra bubble!

As it stands, Dutton & PNG authorities insist that the remaining 560 men are to be lured to new facilities Lorengau from the closed RPC next to the naval base in Lombrun.

Medical service provider IHMS has agreed with Dutton to only treat the men in Lorengau.

Back at Lorengau RPC there is no power and no easy access to clean drinking water or food. The wells dug by the men are likely to be contaminated by insecticides, petrol, human habitation & leaky drains.

There is no sanitation. The engineers among the men have heaps of initiative but cannot change the fact that nothing flushes without power and there is only enough cold water to wash when it rains. Dysentery is a risk.

Anti malarial meds have run out. Fogging has stopped. Squadrons of Manus sized mozzies keeps the men awake at night.

There is a blockade on incoming food, medication, fresh water and resources.

Many have to ablute in the sea. The same sea they fish from.

The men are stuck without the 31 types of medication and cigarettes by which they were controlled or treated under DIPB & IHMS. Withdrawal symptoms are severe. People are losing it.

Worst of all, the police and military see these tired men fighting for their freedom as trespassers on navy property. Supply boats from Lorengau are turned back or impounded. Eviction might come with unnecessary violence. The 2014 death of Reza Berati and the 100 gunshots on Good Friday this year do not augur well.

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Why Not Just Move?

I had thought to mention that Dutton treats the men like cats wilfully wanting “in” and then “out” on a whim. Truth is, staying “in” the Lombrun cage has seemed the lesser evil.

The choice to misunderstand this lack of positive options is only maintained by the most stubborn red neck racists. And Right Wing Media.

The dangers encircling the RPC are not allegorical.

Protesters might climb cranes or walls, but actual refugees are left dangling for up to 8 years in various states of detention or limbo.

The men want nothing short of freedom to move to safe third countries.

Nothing changes the fact that Australia’s heavy handed mismanagement has dumped strangers in a town affected by sudden cultural, economic and environmental upheaval.

A number of unhappy refugees have been forced out to Lorengau over the years. They suffer the lack of work, grotty accommodation and lousy medical facilities. Their food ration is brutally meagre. We know of the suicides and “accidents”.

Then there is community tension and theft born of inequity. A trip to the shops can still cost a refugee an arm or leg injury by machete. Medical evacuations to the Australian mainland for microsurgery are pretty much off the table. PNG is not. But there are no microsurgeons, physios or rehabs in Port Moresby or POM.

Dutton’s assertion that the new locations are ready for the men have been contradicted by even the Daily Telegraph.

The Australian contractors have mostly gone. PNG has hired its own security and contractors. Fences are unfinished, drains undug. Paladin security from Fiji has almost nothing to protect.

Fundraising proceeds and a cache of food exists but most men miss meals and are hungry. Some can afford to lose weight, but most cannot.

Activists already help with phone credit and solar batteries, necessities.

Clearly, Dutton has sway in PNG, an ex colony. He can threaten the $1b pa in aid. His rhetoric holds sway in PNG immigration, the courts, military and on Manus. He can create media blacklists.

But he can’t alter the facts. Four years jailed in nowheresville is too long. The men have become so habituated to their RPC cyclone wire cage that even the removal of generators has not deterred them.

Manus men have seen that there is strength in unity. Solidarity has lured some hungry men to walk back to the RPC from Lorengau 20 miles away.

Disorder in the Courts

Every base is loaded. The High Commissioner to PNG has jinks with the Minister on Friday. The Supreme Court is stacked with Aussies. Immigration Minister Thomas uses the very same words as Dutton. They clearly have a hotline.

The PNG Supreme Court judgement of yesterday is self contradictory (sections 5, 9, 11) and a dog’s breakfast. An appeal is being lodged by Ben Lomai.

International Shame:

Australia is losing face globally. Tourism and the trade economy may yet be impacted. Any embargo from the EU, Canada or Japan would certainly hurt.

Activism in Aus:

It’s very kind of Dutton to help human rights defenders identify their tribe. We’d thank him but for the terrible cruelty he has inflicted innthe process.

Activists are now working more efficiently. They take their lead from the Manus refugees.

It’s interesting to see how debates about strategy have been displaced by continuous action on all fronts.

Dutton can probably access the most banal of chats between activists on Facebook messenger. Activists should anticipate surveillance, think about what they say online and, above all, use secure apps for strategic planning.

The fabulous Flemington demonstrators showed style, strategy and guts as well as conviction. Yet WACA is excluded by several organisations in the sector.

Spot demos are rife. There is always debate whether scattered online and in-person protest is better than one big push. And if so, where and how?

For example, Dutton and Turnbull are going to attend a function at Sydney Technology Park near Redfern Station this Friday evening. How can we ensure that the dignity of the issue is protected against naturally irate hecklers? Murdoch’s News.com loves a good arrest pic.

Fundraising for jail & court may stop us actually helping the men or sending basics to Nauru. Medications are expensive if they are to be obtained at all.

There are other political implications of the situation. Labor could get marginalised in the middle of this issue. They fail to realise how polarising it has become.

Labor has to watch out as McKim grows in stature.

We also have the PHON rise.

Deepest darkest politics is not always palatable at the ballot box.

Young Labor Left have piped up, breaking ranks with the thrusting realpolitik right wing go-getters.

The Bulldust:

There are fascinating developments all around the issue. The lies and spin have taken their toll on Dutton and Turnbull’s cred. They’re digging their own political graves as Abbott did with his transparent fibs. Your tropes have to be coherent and a least a bit believable, chaps.

Sandwiching slender data between arrant slabs of crap won’t work forever.

Newly minted Labour PM Jacinda Ardern of NZ caves over trade and APEC. Money talks. PNG & NZ won’t dare unite against Aus at this stage: but should.

Turnbull parrots Dutton’s fact free attacks.

Fundamentally the boats haven’t stopped. Unacknowledged phantom boats are intercepted in foreign waters and held in Darwin & Fremantle ports.

There are as many Nauru & Manus people now onshore as offshore. Lawyers get them brought here on medical grounds or released into the community on TIPVs case by case. Dutton doesn’t want you to know that.

Visa overstayers who arrived by air have not been sent to penal islands. But there ARE 150 children on Nauru plus newborns. Whether they are “free” is moot when their cage has barely widened to 8 square miles of rock. The spin won’t hold.

The onshore detention centres are also crammed with deserving folk who have been stuck there too long. Temporary visas come with massive uncertainty.

Some media, a senator & personnel in the human rights sector sporadically act as human shields on the ground in Manus, but for how long?

The men are tired.

Then Dutton tightens his media blockade. Media is selected or deselected.

Upcoming legal action against DIPB in Australia may also have mixed results.

Canberra has publicly trampled PNG sovereignty. That’s not going to be tolerated by voters for long.

There is all that could have been done to improve our standing in Melanesia and the Pacific. Ten billion unaudited Aussie dollars might have created a state of the art hospital or exemplary universities and schools.

The role of Australia as a corrupt colonial force using aid to have its way in the region is scary.

Every base is loaded against the guys/ refugees in general.

Above all, we have the Dutton assaults on democracy & what that means for Aus in future.

Also, we see an illegitmate govt doing this: these cruelties, up to 8 years in detention, the invoices for education & health.

Human Rights Abuses Coming Nearer and Nearer to an Institution Close to You

These institutional human rights abuses are coming onshore. They will not just affect aboriginal youth. They are coming to all sorts of agencies near you. And you were warned.

Whatever happens, the courage and grit, the soul and the guts of the men holding out for freedom is phenomenal.

They deserve their safe third country and full liberty.

We salute them.

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