BMRSG's submission as to why we do not support this bill. "We are concerned that this bill will slow the evacuation of seriously ill people from Manus and Nauru to Australia for specialist treatment thus exacerbating their disorders. Doctors and medical personnel must always be able make the decision for rapid medical evacuation in a society which values human life. The previous system involved many levels of bureaucracy and constant court battles to enable medical transfers, an expensive and time wasting business."
This joint report by the Refugee Council of Australia in partnership with Amnesty International, tells the story of the men who have been sent by Australia to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and what has happened to them after they were forcibly removed from the ‘regional processing centre’ on Manus Island one year ago. Executive summary "The system the Australian government has designed for refugees and asylum seekers, has a kind of evil and devastating effect. It can ruin the very inner strength of human spirit. To the outsider, Fariborz [Karami] took his own life [on Nauru in June 2018], but the truth is the system took his life. There is no alternative explanation, and we must hold the Australian government accountable for this action.
Behrouz Boochani, the Kurdish Iranian journalist and award winning autho, discussed his recently published memoir No Friend But the Mountain: Writing From Manus Prison at the Wentworth Falls School of Performing Arts last Saturday. Mr. Boochani fled from Iran to seek refuge in Australia but was instead sent to offshore detention on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Mr. Boochani is a vocal advocate for Kurdish people and all refugees and asylum seekers. Mr. Boochani Skyped in from East Lorengu, the refugee accommodation on Manus Island where he currently resides, and received a standing ovation from audience members, before talking about his memoir and his time in detention.
Summary and recommendation The purpose of the Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2017 (the Bill) is to amend the Migration Act to: 1. allow the Minister to determine that an item is a ‘prohibited thing’ in relation to immigration detention facilities, 2 allow existing screening, search and seizure powers to be used in relation to prohibited things, 3 provide a power to search all areas of immigration detention facilities without a warrant, and 4 enable the use of detector dogs to search facilities and to screen detainees and other persons entering the facilities. This post goes into the details of the Bill, the responses of the main parties and the Government's respond to these comments.
Joy Connor, Deputy Chair BMRSG visited politicians in Canberra with Marie Sellstrom President of Rural Australians for Refugees. First they met with Peter Dutton's main advisor and an advisor then they met with Shayne Neumann, Ged Kearney, Sue Templeman and the Advisor to Kristina Keneally. At these meetings they discussed Immigration Detention, the use of handcuffs on people seeking asylum when they went to medical and counselling appointments, SRSS, resettlement, The Amendments to the Migration Act, the RAR Statement on People Seeking Refuge and Asylum and the Andrew Wilkie Bill.
Members of the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group (BMRSG) took their campaign to the Windsor office of Macquarie MP, Susan Templeman, on Thursday, July 19. The gathering was part of a national day of vigils held around Australia to mark the deaths of 12 male asylum seekers in permanent offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. Twelve empty chairs and 12 pairs of shoes were placed outside Ms Templeman’s office to represent the death of each of the young men. Many of the men, aged between 23 and 34 years old, died from suicide, including overdose and self-immolation. The vigils, named ‘Five Years Too Many’, also marked the fifth consecutive year of refugees and asylum seekers being incarcerated in these centres, established on July 19, 2013.
Standing up for human rights is about picking the battles that are long and exhausting precisely because they are the ones that matter the most. Even after five years of misery and oppression, Behrouz Boochani hasn’t given up. So how on earth can any of us? As he said in his keynote address via video from Manus island last night at the Annual Human Rights Dinner in Sydney: “Our advocacy will be acknowledged as truly valuable and worthwhile only when we can secure the release and safety of the refugees imprisoned on these islands.” Never give up. We won’t.
Six members of BMRSG attended the Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) National Conference held in Wodonga in April 2018. One of the group Roger Grealy writes of his experiences of the conference. This is Part 1 of 3 articles on the wide range of speakers, workshops and great people we met.