‘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