Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

2017 Media Releases


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

Tamil Refugee Council Press Release | TAMIL MAN DIES ON MANUS ISLAND

The death of a Tamil asylum seeker on Manus Island on Monday is further evidence that the Australian government’s refugee policy is killing people, a spokesman for the Tamil Refugee Council said today.

“Rajeev Rajendran was just 32 and had everything to live for. But the suffering he has endured at the hands of the Australian government made him feel that he had nothing to live for,” Kumar Narayanaswami said.

Rajeev is the sixth Manus Island-detained refugee to have died in the last four years. His death follows those of 24-year-old Iranians Reza Barati and Hamid Kehazaei in 2014; 34-year-old Pakistani Kamil Hussain and 27-year-old Sudanese Faysal Ishak Ahmed in 2016; and 31-year-old Iranian Hamed Shamshiripour in August.

Rajendran, a Hindu from the Jaffna region in Tamil Eelam, is understood to have fled Sri Lanka after being threatened by the military. He landed on Christmas Island in 2013 before being taken to Manus Island by Australian authorities.

On Friday, he cut his own throat. His friends say local authorities denied him proper medical treatment.

“Like many other Tamils, Rajeev had been waiting for more than four years for a decision on his application for protection,” Narayanaswami said. “He was aware of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s statements that the authorities intend to deport Tamil asylum seekers regardless of the legitimacy of their claims under the Refugee Convention.”

Rajeev has been suffering from depression for more than a year. Every morning he woke wondering whether the government would force him back to the persecution from which he had fled. His psychological state gradually deteriorated; now he has been pushed over the edge. The Tamil Refugee Council fears that more deaths will result from the Australian government’s callousness.

“Many Tamil asylum seekers have been telling me for a long time that they would prefer to die in detention than be sent back to a Sri Lankan torture chamber,” Narayanaswami said. “I always hoped that these were just pleas for help that would not be acted on. But Rajeev’s death shows how desperate the detainees are becoming. They need to be brought to the Australian mainland and granted asylum immediately.”

For further information contact the Tamil Refugee Council on 0410 197 814

7pm Fri 6 Oct | Speak out: No More Manus Deaths – Vigil for Rajeev

7pm Fri 6 Oct | Speak out: No More Manus Deaths – Vigil for Rajeev

When: 7-8:30pm Friday 6th October

Where: Bourke St Mall (corner Bourke and Swanston Sts), Melbourne

RAC will hold a speak out over the death of 32 year old Rajeev Rajendran on Manus Island. Evolens projections on the corner of Swanston & Bourke Sts will start from 7.30pm
speakers include Aran Mylvaganam – Tamil Refugee Council

Rajeev Rajendran, a Tamil refugee was found hanging next to the Lorengau hospital kitchen in the early hours of Monday, 2 October. His death is the sixth on Manus and the second suicide on Manus in less than two months.

He had been sent to the hospital three days ago, after a self-harming incident at the East Lorengau Transit Accommodation centre. Like, Hamed, and others on Manus, he had been mentally distressed for some time. But there are no facilities on Lorengau to provide proper assistance mentally distressed people. There are two other extremely mentally distressed people who urgently need assistance.

Rajeev’s suicide puts the mirage of the promise of US resettlement into stark relief. Handfuls have been sent to the US, but around 1800 remain on Nauru and Manus.

The evacuation of Manus and Nauru is now a more urgent priority.

To prevent further offshore deaths, there must be urgent evactuation of Manus and Nauru, and the end of offshore processing. We will also be demanding this at the major rally for refugees this Sunday Oct 8
We will hand out flyers for the rally at the speak out.

Facebook event here

Call Chris for more info 0403 013 183