I just spent 10 minutes calling my local MP’s office, as well as the offices of Bill Shorten, Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton to express my “utter disgust” (as I phrased it to Turnbull and Dutton’s staffers) at the current situation on Manus. Why, why, why do people still insist on treating refugees and asylum seekers as political footballs? Why do people not see that using punitive measures creates far more problems than it solves? Our response should be compassionate and respectful. Instead, we have this toxic dehumanising scary situation.
For those of you who are still unaware of what I’m talking about, here’s ASRC’s CEO, Kon Karapanagiotidis:
As of 17:00 today (i.e. 30 minutes ago), all food, water (drinking and running water, so no sanitation!), electricity and medicine access to the men imprisoned in offshore detention on Manus Island has been cut off completely. The Australian government workers and contractors have walked off the site and left “control” in the hands of the Paupa New Guinean military forces – the same group that has repeatedly threatened and made attempts to harm the men.
Supply is being cut off in order to force the men to move to a “transit centre” in another part of the island. A centre which hasn’t been built yet! If they more there? Well – as Kon says above it’s not the fault of the local people, who didn’t ask for the men to be on the Island in the first place. But moving 816 men into East Lorengau, with a population of 4,000 people, where resources are scarce enough to begin with – is quite frankly a worrying prospect. As Kon says in the video (starts about the 4 minute mark), the locals do not want them to come. They have petitioned against it and also made threats. Now, why would the asylum seekers want to move there?
These men do not deserve this. Bring them here!
The men have been imprisoned for more than four years on Manus Island in squalid conditions. There are better ways of “dealing” with them!
Let’s reiterate some facts:
- Seeking asylum is NOT illegal, whether you come by plane or boat (or land but that’s not possible in Australia)
- Locking the refugees up doesn’t “stop the boats”
- Asylum seekers leave their countries because they’re FORCED to – because they’re scared for their own lives or the lives of their families.
Australia will have blood on our hands after this, I fear.
Read more about the current situation here and here and here.
I’ve written about potential solutions before #BringThemHere, drat it! and REBLOGGED: Alternative to Offshore Detention and many others – search my blog using the keyword refugees and you’ll see. I hate this situation.
😦 I wish the politicians would actually behave compassionately rather than punitively. It bloody sucks.
Thursday 5 May 2016 11.11 AEST
Peter Dutton, what do you do between the hours of midnight and 5am? Do you sleep? If so, I really must ask – how can you?
Dozens of Australians sit up all night, every single night, comforting asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. You don’t have to, therefore the task falls to the advocates.
Let me tell you what this entails, since your statement blaming advocates for suicide attempts – of actually encouraging self-harm – suggests you are clearly unaware.
It is mind-blowingly hot on Manus and Nauru during the day, so our friends there try to sleep. We, safely onshore, sit tensely in the evenings, watching for the little green light that signals people have come online. When someone doesn’t show up, there is a flurry of frantic calls between advocates; when did you last hear from them? What did they say? Are they in danger of self-harm? Who do you know in the same compound? The result of these calls can be anything from relief upon locating our friend, safe and sound, or that which is becoming more common – they’ve harmed themselves and are in International Health and Medical Services, or have been beaten by guards and thrown into solitary confinement.
We cannot sleep, Mr Dutton. We can close our eyes, but the horrors we are witnessing don’t go away. And on the rare occasions we actually do get to sleep, we know there are no guarantees that our loved ones will be unharmed when we wake.
I will never forget the last night I actually slept for eight hours – it was in September last year, and I woke to discover one of my dearest friends on Manus had stabbed