Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

2017 Media Releases


Refugee Action Coalition




Refugees and asylum seekers in the Manus detention centre have been given individual notices that declares that the centre will be taken over by the PNG navy after 31 October.

The notice (attached) says that after 31 October, every worker will leave the detention centre; that electricity, water, food, drinking water will be cut off; and the fences removed.

“The Australian government is creating an impossible situation on Manus and putting refugees’ lives at risk. The letters are a direct threat against the refugees,” says Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“They are leaving refugees defenceless against the navy – the people who shot into the detention centre last Easter; while trying to force them into a dangerously insecure situation near Lorengau, some of which is not even open yet.”

“We are calling for the Australian and PNG governments to cease their reckless moves to close the Manus detention centre. No provision has been made for their safety, their security, health care or their future.

“The idea that a clinic at East Lorengau can deal with the complex physical and mental issues among the refugees is worse than ridiculous. The government knows that this won’t work.

“We are urgently requesting human rights’ observers be sent to Manus immediately to oversee the situation on Manus and ensure that the Manus refugees lives are not put in danger.

“Even before the latest letter and the threat of navy action against refugees, the UNHCR had called for Australia to ‘address the imminent humanitarian crisis for refugees and asylum-seekers in Papua New Guinea’. Doctors for Refugees has stated that healthcare on Manus was ‘inadequate’ and unethical action by IHMS was creating a potentially ‘catastrophic outcome’.

“Australia has a responsibility to the people they illegally sent to PNG. They are shelling out $70 million in compensation for the abuse and negligence on Manus at the same time as they are leaving them defenceless.”

“PNG needs to stand up to Australia. Like Nauru, PNG has become a jailer for the Australian government. Urgent action is needed to bring all thew asylum seekers and refugees to Australia.”

A report from Behrouz Boochani, on Manus is pasted below.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

The Australian Border Force is threatening the refugees in Manus. Last night they put up a notice saying that Manus prison camp will close soon and they will cut water, power, food and services after 31 October. The main part of the notice is that they threaten that PNG defence forces will take over the site after that date and the fences of the detention centre will be removed. The refugees have already had a very bad experience with PNG navy soldiers, on Good Friday this year when they attacked the detention centre and fired guns into the centre around 100 times. At that time they tried to ram the fences to attack the refugees and it is only the fences that protected the refugees from that outcome. It is unacceptable to put the refugees in this situation – either move to Lorengau where they risk attack by angry local people, or be taken over by PNG defence forces who have already seriously threatened their safety. The refugees are very worried about the future and are extremely scared by this situation. They don’t feel safe because at any time the Navy may attack the detention centre again. On the other side the local people had several meetings in the past few weeks and are very angry with Australia and PNG governments because they don’t want the refugees in their community and the governments have not respected them.

Australia a ‘human rights hypocrite’, says refugee group

Australia a ‘human rights hypocrite’, says refugee group

‘Australia taking a position on the UN Human Rights Commission is a travesty, says Max Costello for the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) in Melbourne.

‘Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says that Australia will take the position alongside countries whose human rights records are “questionable at best”. But this is hypocrisy, when Australia’s record is worse than questionable.’

‘Australia’s mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and PNG’s Manus Island involves apparent breaches of both international and Australian criminal law. 

‘The International Criminal Court has accepted for analysis five submissions, including one from RAC, alleging crimes against humanity in relation to the mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru. The crimes include “forced deportation”, “imprisonment” of people accused of no crime, and “torture” (intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain).’

‘Australia is also ignoring its own workplace law. Detention centres are workplaces where Australia’s Work Health and Safety Act applies – even offshore. It requires Australian Border Force to safeguard the health (including psychological health) and safety of not only workers but also ‘other persons’ – the detainees. But their health and safety is being destroyed,’ said Costello.

Margaret Sinclair from the Refugee Action Collective said, ‘Julie Bishop mentioned Syria and North Korea in her press conference as countries that Australia would take to task, but she had nothing to say about the immediate crisis in Australia’s region. Over 500,000 Rohingya refugees have been forced out of Myanmar. Yet Australia is maintaining military ties with Myanmar, is refusing to take any Rohingya refugees, and still holds around 170 Rohingya on Manus and Nauru.’

‘Australia is no position to lecture any country about human rights, so long as refugees remain trapped on Manus and Nauru. They must all be brought to safety in Australia where they sought asylum’, concluded Sinclair.

RAC has called a rally on Human Rights Day, December 10, calling on Australia to take at least 20,000 Rohingya refugees, and bring the Rohingya, and all refugees on Manus and Nauru to safety in Australia. The rally will be 2pmat the State Library, including speakers from the Islamic Council and the Australian Burmese Rohingya Organization (ABRO). 

For more information please contact:

Max Costello:  0425 701 690 


Margaret Sinclair:  0417 031 533

List of communiqués alleging Australia commmmitted crimes against humanity 0ct2017

Work Health and Safety Act Cth highlighted Immigration and ABF responsible provisions


Refugee Action Coalition
The latest notice on Manus Island (see attached) announces the next stage in trying to force refugees out of the detention centre and into greater danger in the Lorengau settlement.
Refugees can no longer purchase anything at the detention centre canteen, nor will they receive points that can be used at the canteen.
Refugees have been told that they must transfer to East Lorengau Transit Accommodation – where robberies and bashings are common. Two refugees housed at East Lorengau have committed suicide in the last two months.
Now refugees and asylum seekers are banned from using the sports field adjacent to the detention centre. “Trespassers” are threatened with being turned over to the PNG police Mobile Squad, a police outfit renowned for its brutality.
“The government is ruthlessly following a policy of collective punishment to effectively starve refugees into submission, and deprive them of services, safety, and medical help,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
These notices were issued at the same time that the government made the farcical announcement that refugees would be allowed to apply to transfer from Manus to Nauru.
“The transfer offer is absurd,” said Ian Rintoul, “Except for perhaps one or two people who have been kept separated for years from their families or partners on Nauru, no-one is going to transfer.”
“However, the notice does reveal that the government has no confidence in the US deal. If people were going to be resettled in the US, why is the government offering transfers from Manus to Nauru.”
An even more revealing Nauru government notice that poses questions over the US deal, is being circulated among refugees in Port Moresby. It seems to go further than an earlier notice and declares that Manus refugees (not just those ‘in the US resettlement process’) can express an interest in transferring to Nauru and ‘…pursue resettlement in the United States  or could stay in Nauru for up to 20 years.’
“The government is thrashing around pretending it has a resettlement plan for the refugees on Manus and Nauru,” said Rintoul, “But there are no guaranteed resettlement options. The refugees and asylum seekers are hostage to blind government policy.
“Every day, Manus slides further into a morass of human rights abuse and government indifference. The situation on both Manus and Nauru is increasingly urgent. The only safe option is to evacuate the prison camps and to bring all those on Manus and Nauru to Australia.”
Over 500,000 Rohingyans have fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar over the last two months, yet Australia has not yet agreed to take any Rohingyan refugees. Over 150 Rohingyan refugees are on Manus and Nauru. Some are being held in mainland detention centres.
The Turnbull government should lift the ban on UNHCR refugee from Indonesia, and the policies that prevents family reunions for refugees who arrive by boat.
Australia took 12,000 Syrian refugees after popular pressure forced then Prime Minister ,Tony Abbott, to relent.  Australia should take in many more Rohingyans from the crisis is in its own backyard. The Greens call for Australia to take 20,000 Rohingyan refugees would be a good start.
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713