Today RISE: Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees launches the Sanction Australia Campaign. Initiated and driven by a group of ex-detainees, Sanction Australia calls for international human rights bodies and the United Nations to sanction Australia for its inhumane mandatory detention policies and explicit refugee boat push back policies and to exclude Australia from participation in international humanitarian and human rights decision making processes until mandatory detention and refoulement of asylum seekers and refugees by Australia is abolished.
For the past 26 years, Australia has been progressively implementing punitive and cruel policies against people seeking asylum by boat. These policies have been maintained by successive Australian governments resulting in systemic torture and abuse of refugee/asylum seeker adults and children, and deaths in custody. Since RISE was launched in 2010, we are aware of at least 36 people who have died in Australian detention centres and many RISE ex-detainee members have witnessed deaths in detention well before this time period. “How long,” asks Abdul Baig, RISE director and ex-detainee, “do we have to continue to face such cruelty in front of Australia’s eyes? Where is the justice?”
Depression, suicide, and other mental illnesses are pervasive within Australian detention centres, and are often a direct result of the experience of detention itself. Recent Australian immigration department records reveal that over a period of just one year there were 188 incidents of self-harm involving asylum seekers on Nauru (roughly one every two days) and 55 incidents of self harm on Manus Island. The treatment of detainees within these camps, along with the indefinite detention they experience meets the definition of Torture under International law.
Further, he added “We believe that Australia’s anti-refugee policies are not going to end unless there are international sanctions against the Australian government. We therefore urge international human rights activists and the UN to actively sanction Australia for such cruel acts.”
US president Donald Trump has been widely criticised for his anti-refugee policies yet even he says that Australia’s policies are “worse” than the USA. Australia is the resource centre for anti-immigration policies in affluent liberal democracies around the world. Sanction Australia campaign coordinator and ex-detainee (unnamed) said “We should sanction Australia on human rights to send a strong message to others who are intent on following Australia’s lead on this. Australia is the place to start on human rights sanction among industrialised countries. How many more from our community will be killed to serve Australian political interests? We don’t need any more inquiries or reports, we need action NOW. We are calling for a human rights sanction on Australia.
There have been many inquiries and many reports of deaths and sexual abuse within these camps yet nothing has changed because not a single Immigration minister or administrator in the Australian government has been held accountable. People who support human rights everywhere should stand up and join the call to Sanction Australia. We should not wait until one more refugee is murdered, tortured or refouled by Australia.”
Read more about the #sanctionAustralia campaign here and take action against Australian refugee rights violations! http://riserefugee.org/sanctionaustralia
Media contacts – Abdul Baig 03 9639 8623 or firstname.lastname@example.org