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Issue #1641      June 4, 2014

Solidarity protests on Christmas Island

Around 100 asylum seekers on Christmas Island last week had an overnight sit-in protest, outside their compounds, calling for justice for Reza Barati, the asylum seeker killed on Manus Island on February 17. The protest began on May 27, around 5.30pm Christmas Island time. The protesters displayed placards including ones with the now iconic photo of Reza Barati.

A vigil for 23-year-old Reza Barati, who died during violent clashes on Manus Island.

Like the majority of the asylum seekers on Christmas Island, the protesters are among those who are now threatened with being the next victims sent to Manus Island and Nauru.

“Some of us have been on Christmas Island for over a year and now Immigration is telling us we will be sent to Manus Island or Nauru,” one asylum seeker said from Christmas Island.

To mark 100 days since Reza Barati’s murder, his father, Torabi, has sent a letter to the Australian people calling for justice for his son. The letter was translated by an Iranian asylum seeker who had been held on Manus Island.

“While the Cornall report has indicated some of those allegedly responsible for Reza’s death – in particular the Salvation Army worker and local G4S employees – the Cornall report has uncritically accepted G4S management account of events; an account contradicted by asylum seekers and now contradicted by emails and tape comments by senior G4S management,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“We are still waiting for the truly independent inquiry that will be needed to get to the truth of what happened on Manus Island on 16-17 February. The PNG mobile squad implicated in the lethal attack on defenceless asylum seekers on February 17 still patrol the external fences of the detention centre with the approval of Minister Scott Morrison. We join Reza’s father in calling for justice for his son.”

A letter from Torabi Barati

Dear Australian People,

I have worked hard all my life to bring up my children honest and committed to human dignity, and thank God I achieved my goal. Reza, my son, always loved freedom and treated all people equally and like members of his family.

Reza was full of hope and love and he left Iran to achieve his goals. He chose Australia because he thought your country was the right place. Before he left he told me that in your country all his dreams would come true, and he would have freedom and democracy.

Contrary to what he thought, he was not welcomed in Australia, but forced to go to Manus Island. Whenever he phoned me from detention, he told me about the way they were treated: bad food and lack of medical supplies.

I asked him to come back home many times but he didn’t agree and said “The Australian people don’t know what they are doing to us. As soon as they know about this we will be sent to Australia”. Despite of all the shortages, Reza believed that they had to tolerate and be patient although they had been through such hardship.

Five months passed and I had to face the worst moment of my life: the loss of my son, with all his unfulfilled dreams. On February 17 he was murdered by brutal PNG police, Manus locals and Australian G4S.

He was innocent and did not commit any crime and his murderers are free. I have lost my son and I want you, the Australian people, to bring those who killed my son to justice.

Next article – Maules Creek: protests halt work

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