Dear Ms. Navaneetham Pillay,
I am emailing on behalf of RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees) a not-for-profit incorporated organisation founded and overseen by refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees with members from over 30 immigrant communities. RISE exists to enable refugees to build new lives by providing advice, engaging in community development, enhancing opportunity and campaigning for refugee rights.
Our community is distressed at the news that an asylum seeker in Nauru called Omid is being left in a tent without proper care or treatment after going on a 46 day hunger strike and is now at an extreme stage of internal bleeding. He has not drunk any water for 4 days and we ask that urgent action be taken to save his life.
In addition to this disturbing news our community is shocked and concerned by the increased attack on rights of refugees and asylum seekers by the Australian government in the last 3 weeks and continued calls by Australian politicians on both sides of parliament for policies that cause these violations.
1. As self-harm and suicides increase in Nauru and asylum seekers in Nauru are still sleeping in tents, the Australian government shamelessly made the announcement last week that they are now opening the detention centre in Manus Island a detention centre with one of the worst track-records in Australia’s shameful history of off-shore processing. This increases the numbers of asylum seekers arriving in Australia who will be cut off from seeking asylum in Australia as well as the Australian judicial system and sent to other countries for processing.
2. Mass deportations in just 2-3 months of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka arriving by boat and detained in Christmas Island and other detention centres in Australia, not being allowed to apply for asylum and have access to any legal representation. So far over 400 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have been deported in this way. There are news reports of asylum seekers deported in this way being arrested on return to Sri Lanka.
3. The announcement last week that the Australian government would stop giving work-rights to asylum seekers and refugees released into the community and would place a bar on applying for a permanent visa for 5 years even if someone has been accepted as a refugee by the Australian government.
4. The continued use of mandatory and indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia on-shore and offshore.
5. Increased investment by the Australian government into expanding onshore and offshore immigration detention networks run by private subcontractors that are below minimum prison standards in violation of the UN human rights charter and UN refugee convention- taking priority over a transparent, humane and just refugee/ humanitarian programs.
As Angela Davies has said: Immigration detention is the civil rights issue of our time (http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2006/12/angela_davis_on.html) and we ask the UN human rights commission to take decisive action and address the escalating crisis of attacks with impunity on the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees and people of colour by the governments of Australia and other industrialised countries who are also looking to follow Australia’s lead.
Lives of asylum seekers such as Omid have to be saved so they have a chance to seek the protection they are asking for at the very least.