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On the 19th of July 2013, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that all people seeking asylum who arrived in Australia by boat would not be resettled here. Five years on, and hundreds of people who sought Australia’s protection remain exiled in limbo on Nauru and Manus Island in PNG.
The policy was enacted arbitrarily and about a third of people who arrived by boat after this date were never sent offshore. Boat-mates were divided between Christmas Island, Manus Island and Nauru. Most people who remained on Christmas Island were eventually released into the community on a bridging visa and invited to apply for a TPV or SHEV. Some people from this group, however are still in detention on Christmas Island and elsewhere or living in limbo in the community.
This July marks 5 years too many. It marks 5 years in limbo, 5 years of abuse and 5 years without safety, particularly for those who are still in PNG and Nauru without any clear pathway to protection.
We call on the Coalition Government and the Labor party to immediately evacuate people offshore to Australia while permanent resettlement options are finalised and facilitated.
We call on the Coalition Government and the Labor party to immediately evacuate people to Australia while permanent resettlement options are finalised and facilitated.
Since 2014, the Australian government have killed 12 people by the policy of off-shoring refugees.
We echo calls of people held on these remote islands to #BringThemHere or #LetThemGo.
“Recording the moment is a photographer’s job. Here in Manus, we need some beautiful, transient distractions to help us tolerate continuous tortures…Those pictures are beautiful landscapes for you, but for me, they are just different corners of my prison.”
Photo prints from the ‘Beautifully Suffered’ exhibition launched last night in Perth are now available to order online here. Please jump on and order a print or two to support the artist, who is still in exile on Manus Island. You can hear Kaaveh speak at the opening here. Article published in the Perth Voice below:
Thanks to everyone who made it to the Perth premiere screening of ‘Chauka Please Tell Us the Time’ this week. We had a great turnout with an almost full house! We appreciate your support and are glad that so many people got to see this very important film. A special thanks to the co-director Behrouz Boochani for joining us live from Manus Island for discussion, following the film.
Unfortunately there won’t be any further cinema screenings in Perth however the film is now available online to rent on Vimeo!
See link here.
WHEN: 20 June (Wednesday) from 7pm
WHERE: City Arts Space (Corner of James St/Lake St, Northbridge)
An artist / photographer from Iran has been suffering island imprisonment in Manus since 2013. “Kaaveh Maleknia” hasn’t lost his skills but something has changed in him forever. Visit his first photo exhibition of Manus Island’s landscapes and hear him speak about his work, while he is still locked up.
Photo prints will be available to purchase/order. Funds raised will be sent back to support “Kaaveh” while he remains in limbo on the island.
We acknowledge that this exhibition will take place on the land of the Whadjuk Nyoongar people and pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. Sovereignty was never ceded. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.
WHEN: 22 June, 6:30pm
WHERE: Saga Bookshop (203 South Terrace, South Fremantle)
Mohammad Ali Maleki is a poet originally from Iran. He has been writing from within Australia’s prison camp in Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, over the past two years. Mansour Shoshtari, also exiled to Manus, works closely with Mohammad to translate his work from Farsi to English. Mohammad’s poems have been published in Verity La., Blue Pepper, Rochford Street Review and was shortlisted for the Red Room Company’s New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016. His poems were performed in Writing Through Fences’ bilingual show Through The Moon at the 2017 Queensland Poetry Festival. A chapbook of his work titled Truth in the Cage (ed. Michelle Seminara), is to be released later in 2018.
Mohammad previously worked as a tailor and film/theatre set builder. In Manus prison he built a garden and much of his writing has grown with the life-sustaining practice of gardening. The Strong Sunflower was one of the first pieces that Mohammad wrote. It was sent to Rose Ertler, and visual artists were invited to respond to Mohammad’s poem.
Refugee Rights Action Network are hosting the Perth launch of ‘The Strong Sunflower’ (published by Writing Through Fences) with the generous support of Saga Bookshop and Mums 4 Refugees.
Mohammad Ali Maleki remains exiled on Manus and as a result of government policies is unable to be present at the launch. Instead, we will be facilitating a reverse-signing of his book to send to him so that he knows the Perth/Freo community are celebrating this achievement with him.
The venue is kid friendly (toys available for little ones) and wheelchair accessible. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome.
Salim was a man who had suffered from epilepsy for a prolonged period. He was transferred between Manus and Australia for medical treatment on multiple occasions however in recent years pleas for medical attention went unheeded. Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist and prisoner exiled to Manus and then Lorengau provided the following analysis, reported in the Guardian, “Salim and many others were driven to death by the application of systematic torture. The death of Salim is the outcome of organised tactics of violence that involve a chain of command and administrative procedures. These are deaths ordered by political actors and a government that knows what it is doing; strategic manoeuvres designed to eliminate people incarcerated on Manus in the most violent way.”
During the October protests on Manus last year, Salim could often be seen bearing flowers. One of Salim’s friends once asked him about why he protested with flowers and he responded simply “They give me pain but I will give them flowers until they are ashamed.”
Today a group of people occupied the Perth Immigration Department Office for two hours, making paper flowers to peacefully protest the ongoing state sanctioned violence against refugees. Flower bearers called for an end to the intentional killing of refugees offshore in the name of ‘deterrence’ and ask that Manus and Nauru be evacuated immediately and people brought to safety in Australia while permanent resettlement options are finalised and facilitated.
Following Salim’s death, Mohammad Imran, a fellow Rohingya refugee, writer and human rights defender held in Lorengau wrote, “I recall telling the security guards on hundreds of occasions that he would die here if he did not receive the proper treatment for his epilepsy. He had been through hell for five years and all we could do was watch him suffer and call the security guards to take him to the hospital in the hope he would receive effective treatment.
I wonder if the authorities are feeling triumphant tonight, knowing there is one less innocent to be concerned about, although as they have not shown any compassion in all these years, I doubt they will even acknowledge his death.”
Today in Perth, we channel and remember Salim’s peaceful resistance against violence and deliver flowers to DIBP in his name. Flower bearers stand in solidarity with the human rights defenders on Manus. We reinforce the point raised by several men held on the island that more deaths should be expected if the government does not take urgent action. We ask ‘how many more deaths will the Australian government and people accept?’ We call for an end to deaths by policy.
This year, three Coronial Inquests of people who died while in the custody of the Immigration Department are scheduled to be held in Perth. RRAN hopes that the Coroner will examine the systemic issues involved in each of these cases. None of these three men were the first nor last people to die in immigration detention. RRAN calls for an end to deaths by policy. Indefinite detention is a punitive measure where death is a predictable and intentional outcome. The only way to stop deaths in custody is to dismantle the system itself.
FAZEL CHEGENI NEJAD
Listed for hearing 30 July – 10 August 2018
Adjourned: Call Over 1 June 2018 at 9.30am
Listed for hearing 9-11 October 2018
Adjourned: Call Over 1 June 2018 at 9.30am
MOHAMMAD NASIM NAJAFI
Listed for hearing 6-7 November 2018
Adjourned: Call Over 1 June 2018 at 9.30am
Members of RRAN will be attending the inquest hearings to bear witness to the proceedings. We encourage our supporters to come along.
Details of actions around the inquests will be added and update closer to the dates.
Refugee Rights Action Network WA acknowledge that we are living and working on the stolen land of First Nations peoples whose sovereignty was never ceded. We believe recent comments made by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton are an example of how white Australia still arrogates to itself the right to decide unilaterally on who goes and who stays, and which lives are worth saving.
One of RRANs major concerns about this discussion is the way that White South African farmers have been incorrectly portrayed as refugees. We appreciate that people are concerned for the safety of friends and family members in South Africa as a result of instances of violence and we do not wish to diminish any pain or suffering that people have experienced. We are concerned, however about how these fears are being appropriated locally for political benefit. A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country because of war, persecution or violence. We believe that the circumstances of white South African farmers and those of refugees, who have been compelled to flee their country of origin, are being conflated.
In comments made last month, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton stated, in regards to white South African farmers, “I think these people deserve special attention and we’re certainly applying that special attention now.” He characterised them as deserving migrants and suggested, “People do need help and they need help from a civilised country like ours”. This rhetoric contrasts with his characterisation of black, brown and Muslim people seeking refuge in Australia and the increasingly punitive treatment meted out to them.
The facts about regional crises of death and displacement are erased. We support the right of anyone experiencing persecution to seek asylum and agree that the cost of parent and other visa avenues can be prohibitive for most families. This however also applies to refugees seeking to help their loved ones escape genocide or war zones. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been forcibly displaced as a result of a concerted campaign of genocide in Myanmar, while each month hundreds of people continue to be bombed and killed in Syria.
The UNHCR has recently confirmed that they have not received any queries from South African farmers seeking protection from Australia. They instead urged the Australian government to focus on providing urgent resettlement to people on Manus and Nauru who directly sought protection from Australia.
Politicians’ statements about white South African farmers as being preferred refugee claimants have also been echoed in demonstrations by far right groups in Perth. WA Federal Liberal MPs walked alongside people carrying placards through the streets with statements like “Let The Right Ones In / White Lives Matter”.
Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton’s repeated remarks about the prioritisation of white South African farmers should be considered in the context of a long history of racism within both countries, including the White Australia Policy that endured into the 1970s and South African Apartheid.
Australian Federation came after a period of regular colonial massacres and sought to enshrine ethnic cleansing in law. Since Federation Australia has attempted to restrict non-white migration. Racist legislation continues to be passed today despite the formal end of the White Australia Policy in 1973. Correspondingly, Australia’s border policies inspire other violent border regimes around the world.
RRAN supports the statements made by the UNHCR and believe it is important to refocus the debate on the wider issue of the right to seek asylum and the urgency of regional resettlement. We call on Federal Ministers to extend their concern for white South African farmers to people who have fled from persecution in search of refuge, some of whom have been on Manus and Nauru for almost 5 years.
RRAN MeetingsRRAN WA is currently meeting on Mondays from 6.30pm at the Activist Centre, U15/5 Aberdeen Street, Perth (just north of the McIver Train Station). For more details, send us a message via our Contact RRAN WA page, or call/text us on 0412 860 168. Fremantle RRAN meets at 6pm on the first and third Wednesday of each month at The Federal Hotel, 23 William St Fremantle. Contact Fremantle RRAN