Open letter from a former detainee in Australia — ‘Please fight these draconian anti-refugee laws’

I object to the proposed law announced by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ban asylum seekers and refugees who arrived by boat from ever entering Australia, and I call on Australians to fight and resist these unconscionable policies.

Since the reopening of detention camps outside Australia, in the remote pacific islands of Manus and Nauru, refugee boats have been intercepted by the Australian government and the asylum seekers in these boats trafficked to the islands and held hostage for the so-called joint political purpose of ‘deterring’ people smugglers.

Both major parties now contend that this policy has ‘worked’ and no more boats are arriving in Australia. However, both the Liberal and Labor parties remain committed to the imprisonment of 1313 men, women and children, at all costs and into the foreseeable future. This number includes 50 children and 56 women (www.aph.gov.au, 30 June 2016).

Both major parties intend to utilise refugees to prop up a failing political system, to win votes, wedge their opposition, and spread fear, hatred and division amongst the public. Racial hatred informs and props up this system.

Refugees and asylum seekers in Manus and Nauru continue to endure the following

1. Forcible deportation
2. Arbitrary and indefinite imprisonment
3. Denial of a transparent, accountable and fair legal process and legal representation
4. Institutionalised torture, cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment (contrary to Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights)
5. Medical neglect and criminal negligence resulting in preventable deaths
6. Systematic rape and other sexual crimes, including against children
7. Assault, grievous bodily harm and murder (the latter refers to Reza Barati who was murdered on Manus Island; the Australians implicated in his murder have never been charged).
8. Unlawful death and false imprisonment
9. An absence of settlement options, with full legal rights, citizenship protections, and safety.

In summary, Six refugees have died on these islands and many more have suffered from cruel and degrading treatment including torture and rape and none have been provided a safe and durable option of permanent protection. Is this how Australia measures the “success” of refugee policies?

As Australia remains an active participant and supporter of wars which create refugees, they have an even greater obligation to offer sanctuary and safety. Please take your international obligations seriously. Free refugees from fear and despair. I appeal to all justice-minded human beings to resist and fight this new law.

Abdul Baig
RISE Member and Ex-Detainee

Get Involved : Block The Proposed Bill

1. RISE Media Release – Re : Proposed legislation to ban refugees and asylum seekers who come on boats from entering Australia 03/11/2016

2. Letter to the Australian Public – Re:Proposed legislation to ban refugees and asylum seekers who come on boats from entering Australia 31/10/2016