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Issue #1674      February 25, 2015

Manus Island message to people of Australia

The Refugee Action Coalition has received the message below signed by hundreds of asylum seekers in Delta and Fox compounds on Manus Island.

Manus Island detention centre.

The message was written the day of the memorials to Reza Barati held in all in the compounds of the Manus detention centre.

A protest vigil was held in Sydney (Friday 20 February), at the Sydney Town Hall Square.

To the people of Australia:

We are the asylum seekers on Manus Island who have been forcibly relocated to Manus Island because we entered Australian territory by boat, seeking safety and protection, after we fled our countries because of civil war that threatens our families.

We were desperate to come to Australia by boat because we don’t have any other option; only to jump on a piece of wood to cross the ocean.

We came to Australia legally. We have no other reason [to come] except to seek safety. We are not criminals as some people say.

We are human beings like you. We have parents, kids and wives, who we had to leave behind and who are in danger of civil war and persecution. We hoped to assist them, but unfortunately we can’t even release ourselves from this prison.

We have been in hell in detention for more than 20 months. The treatment that we face is worse than the way you would treat an animal. We face the spectre of a death here once again.

Two of us lost their lives and some of us have mental problems and permanent injury because we are seeking freedom. We were sent to jail because of the hunger strike. When we were in the prison, we were beaten like dogs and torture us as if we were criminals and they told us “go back to your country; what do you want from PNG?”

The suffering has ended for those [of us] who have lost their lives, but ours still continues. Everyday we receive threats from the local people but some of us prefer to risk death in Manus than to go back to our homelands.

We cannot go back to our homelands because of [the danger] we have faced [there] in the past to ourselves or other people.

We appreciate the efforts of those who are supporting our case and standing with us.

If it becomes a crime to seek asylum, refugees will be a shame on the community. And the law will be deaf and blind.

Signed: asylum seekers – Delta and Fox compounds

Justice for Reza Barati

The first anniversary of the killing of Reza Barati was marked by vigils, protests and other actions around the world. GetUp is organised a “Light the Dark” event asking people to light a candle to mark the year since Reza was brutally killed and scores of others savagely injured when PNG police provided cover for the murderous attack by expatriate and local G4S employees.

On Manus Island, where scores of people still carry the physical scars of the savage attack, asylum seekers held their own ceremonies inside the detention centre.

In New South Wales, a dramatic sky-writing event, “Shut Down Manus“ appeared above the Sydney Opera House. International vigils were held in The Hague, Paris, Geneva, Belfast and Wellington. There was also a vigil in Melbourne.

In Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast protests were held Friday February 20. In Sydney, a protest vigil was at Sydney Town Hall. Speakers included a relative of Reza’s family, other Iranian refugees, The Greens and the Refugee Action Coalition.

“One year, since Reza’s death and there is still no justice. The investigation has all the signs of being a cover-up. Two locals who have been charged with Reza’s murder remain in jail, but there is no sign of the trial that could expose more details of those involved in the attacks. Eye-witnesses have not been interviewed,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The PNG police investigation has already cleared PNG police from involvement although the evidence of them shooting asylum seekers that night is incontrovertible.”

“There is no sign that the PNG police are actively pursuing the expatriates they allege were involved in Reza’s killing.

“But the real responsibility for Reza’s death lies with the Australian government. The brutality that was unleashed on defenceless asylum seekers on 16, 17 February 2014 remains a pervasive feature of the Manus detention centre.

“The ruthless suppression of the recent mass hunger strike has seen the detention centre become even more a prison-camp. Around 36 so called ‘ringleaders’ remain in isolation in Charlie Compound where the fence has been wrapped in plastic to prevent people seeing in or out.”

“There will [be] no justice for Reza until all of those involved in his murder are on trial and until Manus is closed and all of the asylum seekers are brought to Australia.”

Next article – ABS staff: More funding, end job cuts

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