Media Release: PROTEST TO DEMAND JUSTICE FOR REZA BARATI – CORNALL REPORT A WHITEWASH

PROTESTS TO DEMAND  JUSTICE FOR REZA BARATI – CORNALL REPORT A WHITEWASH

Protest to demand justice on the 100th day since the murder of Reza Barati

12.30pm Wednesday 28th May

Immigration Department, Corner Lonsdale and Spring Sts City

  • Independent Investigation Now
  • Sack Scott Morrison
  • Close Manus Island

Speakers include Janet Rice – Greens, Mohammed Ali Baqiri – refugee detained on Nauru as a child, Kurdish Community Representative, Chris Breen – Refugee Action Collective

 

‘The Cornall Report claims “It is not possible to isolate one factor if handled differently may have resulted in less injuries”, but there is one factor which could guarantee 100% no re-occurrence of the violent attacks on asylum seekers – to shut Manus Island.’ said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective.

 

‘The report says it is not possible to ‘apportion blame’, but ultimately this is blood on Abbott and Morrison’s hands. They are responsible for sending asylum seekers to Manus Island, they are implementing a policy designed to break people. They are responsible for asylum seeker safety which they cannot guarantee. Today a Transfield guard has reported 10 machete wielding locals threatening to kill a group of 15 asylum seekers as they were being escorted to play football, the guard and asylum seekers had to run back to the compound. Morrison maintains ‘one thing I can assure you of, our policies will remain the same’. But these policies led to the murder of Reza Barati, they are keeping asylum seekers fearful for their lives, they must change, Morrison has to go.’ said Breen

 

‘Abbott continues to try and use his ‘stop the boats’ mantra to bolster his plummeting support in the wake of the Budget, it is therefore tragic that Richard Marles main comment in the wake of the Cornall Report has been to reaffirm Labor’s commitment to offshore processing. The Refugee Action Collective commends the NSW Young Labor Left resolution to ‘withdraw its support from the campaigns of any Labor parliamentary candidate that does not publicly declare their opposition to the mandatory detention and offshore processing of asylum seekers.’ said Breen

 

‘The Cornall report has had to admit some of the horror of the attacks on asylum seekers: That multiple shots were fired by the PNG mobile Squad at chest height throughout the detention centre on Manus Island, that asylum seekers were dragged and beaten from their beds, and that those responsible for the attacks remain on the payroll of Transfield.’ Said Breen

 

‘Buried deep in the report Cornall gives asylum seeker testimony such as one being beaten in the presence of Australian guards, and told by his attacker  ‘Son of a bitch, you want freedom. Take the freedom motherf…ker’. This was retribution, this was an uprovoked attack, but that is not the summary that Cornall gives. The executive summary and recommendations are a whitewash’ said Breen

 

The report maintains a number of fictions:

 

  • The opening sentence asserts the legal fiction that Manus island is under the control of an administrator appointed by the PNG government. Yet Rod St George the former OH&S manager has told ABC that PNG had no say in the day to day running of the centre. A former Manus security worker has described the centre as ‘Australian soil, it’s like an embassy’.
  • The report accepts G4s accounts that there was a ‘violent protest’ by asylum seekers on the night of the attacks. But both whistle blower Liz Thompson and asylum seekers have claimed there was only one small protest of 30-40 people in Oscar compound at around 6pm that night. Asylum seekers were attacked 5 hours later in Mike compound at around 11pm after power was cut. The best Cornall’s report does to resolve this contradiction is to state ‘I was struck by the way the same situation or facts could be interpreted quite differently by the different parties’
  • The report claims asylum seekers had prepared makeshift weapons, and claims that asylum seekers attacked G4s guards first with rocks, clubs and metal poles, but can’t explain why there was only one serious injury to a G4s guard and ‘at least 69’ serious injuries amongst asylum seekers.
  • The report claims the principal cause of the attacks was anger and frustration of asylum seekers, but regardless of the legitimate anger of asylum seekers it did not cause them to be dragged from their beds and beaten.
  • The report says one man lost an eye, but two people lost their eyes in the attack

For comment call Chris Breen 0403 013 183 for the Refugee Action Collective

Protest details interstate:

Brisbane: 12pm Wednesday 28th May, Department of Immigration, 299
Adelaide St. Contact: Frederika Steen 3720 1885 or Mark Gillespie on
0439 561 196.

Melbourne: 12.30pm Wed 28th May, Immigration Dept – cnr Spring &
Lonsdale Sts. Contact Chris 0403 013 183.

Perth: 4.00pm, Wesley Uniting Church, cnr William and Hay Sts, City.
Contact Victoria 0427 256 131.

Sydney: vigil and speakout, Thursday, 29 May, 5.30pm, Sydney Town Hall.