Media Release – for immediate releaseHunger strike and sewn Lips on Manus as Morrison due to put shameful refugee bill to vote
‘As Scott Morrison desperately tries to get his legislation through the parliament, around one hundred asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island have gone on hunger strike and four have sewn their lips. His legislation would see them stuck indefinitely on Manus Island. Three Iranians and some of the Pakistanis on hunger strike have had their asylum claims processed and are recognised refugees, but remain in detention.’ said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective.They write in a statement (attached) “All sympathetic Australians know, approximately 16 months we have been caught in hell. The desperate situation is much more than you imagine.”‘The hunger strike started two days ago (01/12/14). Three Pakistani men and one Afghan man were taken to IHMS after fainting yesterday (03/12/14), but refused treatment’ continued Breen. ‘Those who have sewn their lips include two Iranians, one Iraqi and one Lebanese man in Oscar compound. The hunger strikers complain about being treated like slaves by the officers. They say all of their written complaints have been ignored. They say they often stay up all night in fear. There are 50 men to a room, the temperature gets up to 500C, the bathrooms and toilets are filthy, the food is disgusting and they are forced to wait in long lines for it. One of the hunger strikers says “We are often called ‘boat people’ by the officers and procrastination is one of their common acts here in all different situations to agitate us”. When asked what the demands of the hunger strike were he said “Everyone wants his freedom after 17 months, and we wanna be taken to a safe place from this bloody Island.”
Breen added ‘Scott Morrison is trying to sugar coat his legislation, which would effectively put much of refugee policy beyond the reach of the courts and bring back temporary visas. The sugar coating offers nothing for those dumped on Manus and Nauru. Morrison has gone so far as to offer work rights to those living in the community, and to release children from Christmas Island if the legislation gets passed. But children will remain on Nauru, and children and work rights should not be hostage to horse trading. Whilst asylum seekers living in the community are desperate for work rights, Morrison’s intention is that most of them won’t get refugee status. Under this new legislation’s fast track process, many asylum seekers will be deported to danger because the definition of a refugee will be changed and appeal rights will be removed.’
‘The Refugee Action Collective urges all Senators to vote against Morrison’s bill. We demand that the complaints of the hunger strikers are taken seriously. We demand all the Manus detainees are brought to Australia and their claims for refugee status processed here’, concluded Breen.
For more information call Chris Breen 0403 013 183
for the Refugee Action Collective
Permission has been given to circulate photographs by the men who sewed their lips (an offer to blur the photos was declined, they wanted them out as is)
A statement from asylum seekers in Parichinar Pakistan is attached alongside statement of all hunger strikers, due to the poor quality of the photograph, the content has been typed out word for word below: Voice from Parachinar Pakistan
Our message for Australia government
Regarding our freedom and cruel situation here in MIRPC PNG
We lost our families, friends and thousands of people there and no one is there to protect us, even our government
When we escaped from there in search of safe life and left our families there in critical situation
Now we are detained here in MIRPC from last seventeen 17 months, no one is here to help us and give us freedom,
we are fed up from this life being imprisoned
Going back is never an option, we chose to die here rather than send us back to our country
Please pitty on us and release us to Australia Community peacefully
Hunger strike for freedom.
BRING MEHRZAD TO AUSTRALIA FOR TREATMENT
PROTECT REFUGEES ON NAURU FROM ATTACKS
DON’T ABANDON UNHCR REFUGEES IN INDONESIA
The Refugee Action Collective has called a snap protest for tomorrow Thursday November 20, 12.30pm, outside the Immigration Department, corner Lonsdale & Spring Sts Melbourne. We are calling on the Australia government to save the sight of Mehrzad, an Iranian refugee on Nauru, and to bring all refugees dumped offshore back to Australia for their protection.
Speakers include Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, and Chris Breen from the Refugee Action Collective.
‘An Iranian man Mehrzad lost 60% of his sight after being struck with a rock in a vigilante attack on Nauru. There is no treatment available for him on Nauru. Without treatment he may lose his sight. The Australian government cannot wash their hands of his situation,’ said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective.
‘Just as refugees were attacked on Manus Island, they are now being attacked on Nauru. There have been 10 documented attacks on refugees, including unaccompanied minors, since October. This week a vigilante letter was widely circulated on Nauru, further threatening the safety of refugees. Neither Manus Island nor Nauru are safe for refugees.’
‘Nauru is an extremely poor country of only ten thousand people. Australia should be providing assistance to Nauru instead of exporting the racism of the Coalition government. The contempt for refugees displayed by the Coalition has found an echo amongst a minority of Nauruans. Local detention centre staff also get paid many times less than expats, which adds to tensions.’
‘Refugees dumped on Nauru, both inside the detention centre and in the community, remain Australia’s responsibility. The Refugee Action Collective demands treatment for Merhzad. We call on Scott Morrison to bring all the refugees to Australia, rather than accept the potential for more blood on his hands.’
‘The protest will also call on the Coalition government to continue to resettle in Australia those refugees processed by the UNHCR within Indonesia, and to stop its attempt to withdraw from the 1951 Refugee Convention in all but name,’ said Breen.
For further comment call Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective
0403 013 183
Media Release – for immediate release
Witnesseses to murder of Reza Barati must be protected
Allegations that two witnesses to the murder of Reza Barati were beaten, threatened with rape and forced to sign documents withdrawing their witness statements received a new hearing after one of the men ‘Mike’ stepped forward to publically speak about what he says happened. (The ABC is calling the men ‘Mike’ and ‘Matthew’)
‘The allegations were first made in July this year. They include names, witnesses, dates and details, yet remarkably for such serious allegations there has been no police or Immigration Department investigation. The Australian Federal Police are refusing to investigate saying it is a matter for Papua New Guinea. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison denied the allegations when they were first made in July on the basis of….nothing at all. He continues to deny them now on the basis of contractor Transfield’s claim to have conducted an internal investigation. Since when was Transfield qualified to investigate such serious claims of torture and witness intimidation?’ asked Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective.
‘”Mike”is due to testify in the trial over Reza Barati’s murder, which has now been postponed until next year. ‘Mike’ is terrified that he will be attacked or threatened again’ continued Breen.
‘’Mike’ sent the Refugee Action Collective this message today ‘I’m really on edge and don’t think we would be safe till then [the trial]. Three days ago their were gunshots. No-one will tell us why there are gunshots. I assumed this could be a warning about testifying’
‘Scott Morrison’s claims about events on Manus Island have repeatedly been undermined by facts in the past. If Morrison was confident about his denials of witness intimidation he would allow a serious investigation. It is inconceivable that if such allegations were made by a witness to a murder trial in Australia that they would not be investigated by police and witness protection offered. ‘Mike’ and ‘Matthew’ must be brought to Australia immediately for their own safety. Scott Morrison’s refusal to act is collusion in the intimidation of witnesses.’ said Breen
The Refugee Action Collective has spoken to a former Manus employee who says ‘I know ‘Mike’ and ‘Mathew’ well, they were sent in to the Chauka unit, that’s the other thing, Chauka was never there initially, that’s a new thing. Those two guys would not make up anything I can tell you that.’
‘A G4s guard and a Salvation Army worker are on trial for the murder of Reza Barati, but Scott Morrison should also be on trial, Barati’s blood is also on his hands. There must also be an investigation into the credible allegations of torture and threats to the witnesses to Reza Barati’s death. Morrison continues shows callous disregard for asylum seekers safety and for the protection of witnesses in a murder trial. He should be sacked, and the Manus Island detention centre closed’ said Breen
For further comment from the Refugee Action Collective call Chris Breen 0403 013 183
There will be a protest in Sydney tomorrow at the Transfield AGM, against Transfield profiting from the human rights abuses of offshore processing. 1pm at the Museum of Sydney. Contacts for that protest are
Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition, +61 (0) 417 275 713, firstname.lastname@example.org (wwwrefugeeaction.org.au) Joyce Fu, Corner Link- Taking actions to promote environmental and social justice, +61 (0) 405 365 493, email@example.com
Finally the original statement from July of allegations from witnesses to Reza Barati’s murder is below in full (with names redacted)
In 14/7/2014 we had a meeting with Transfield and Wilson managers about issues of internet and phone rooster, when we convinced them that this system doesn’t work, because of the time differences between here and our countries; A stopped the meeting and said: “We set the rules and you must follow it, we don’t care about your time zones”We got upset and told them: We pass our community message to you; it’s not fair and we yield, and left the meeting but we didn’t swear at anyone or threatened anyone. when we got out, our community were waiting for us to know about output of meeting.
then we left area and went to B’s room C came to us and said: “I have been told by A; you should come with us to another meeting to take your suggestions”.
we didn’t accept it, because we knew that they are not going to change the roster. then he said: “I have been ordered if you don’t come, drag you on the ground!”
We still resisted.
So they send D to deceive us, because they knew we trusted on her. She tricked us and told us: “We will be back in one hour”
After that they took us with another friend of us and escorted all 3 of us to somewhere that we haven’t seen it before. they returned our friend back to the compound.
after that they put us in a place surrounded by 4 containers and A and E & F and 6 others that we knew one of them; his name is G came there, and hand cuffed us with plastic zip to our chairs.we wondered and asked: whats the matter?!
they didn’t answer us and A ordered them to beat us in the body not face so it will be no effect left of hitting.
We were crying and asking what is our fault?! They said: “because you always object to all of our rules” and said: “You have to sign a pair of paper; if you object again, we will deport you back to your countries”
we didn’t accept it.
After that they said: “if you don’t sign, because you were witnesses of Reza Berati’s death, PNGs and we are thirsty to your blood, because you are going to testify against our countries people in the court, we will order these locals to rape you and we will sit here and watch it”
So we cried and signed those papers to not to get rapped,
after that they kept us in custody on that rough ground in that area with one loaf of bread and one drinking water per day. We laid down on the ground and slept there in mud.
They kept us there for 72 hours, we asked several times to see PNG Police and said: we want to go to their jail, but they refused.
After that they came and took B back to the compound and A told him: “if you say anything about what happened here we will take you back and we get the locals to rape you and deport you”
Now we are under high watch by three Officers
Please we beg you Help us.