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Issue #1800      October 25, 2017

“Don’t kill us anymore”

More than 500 detainees at Manus Island have written to the PNG authorities (text below), calling for the PNG government to provide safe resettling third countries, an end to their imprisonment. The letter comes as today (October 13) marks day 74 of protests on Manus Island, and as services – including medical services – continue to be withdrawn.

Tensions are also mounting among Manusians as the closure of the detention centre looms, and asylum seekers and refugees are threatened with forced eviction from the detention centre and relocation to other areas of Manus Island.

Quoting their own safety concerns, angry local meetings in ward one of the Lorengau settlement have rejected the Australia-PNG governments’ move to transfer asylum seekers to “private properties in Lorengau Town”. They have called for their two members of parliament to face a public meeting and “address their grievances”.

But pro-refugee protests are also being planned to oppose the forced relocation of the refugees and asylum seekers.

Manus detainees are being told they must move, although it is understood that two areas touted as new accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers, Hillside Haus and West Lorengau Haus, are still under construction, with no provision for security or general health or mental health care.

Lorengau hospital is unable to provide even basic health care for the Manusian community, let alone cater for the special needs of 800 more people dumped on its doorstep.

“After holding people illegally for over four years, the Australian government has embarked on a dangerous and reckless process of brutalising people who have been found to be refugees, needing international protection. People are dumped in a community that is ill-equipped and unable to support them,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

The letter

To the people in authority over the treatment of refugees,

To PNG Prime Minister, the Attorney General, Parliaments Members, Police, Royal PNG constabulary and Chief Justice of PNG.

We have been held in your country against our wishes and have been denied our liberty and have been tortured in your country.

We came to Australia asking for asylum. Australia has signed the 1951 UN Refugee Convention: however they deliberately broke it and has had not offered us asylum. The UN, UNHCR, Amnesty International, Save the Children and many other organisations have rebuked Australia’s treatment of us here in Manus Detention Centre.

Please do not go along with this mistreatment of humans. We do not want to move into Manus. We do not feel safe. We cannot work or provide for our families, we cannot be respected by people in society here. We don’t want to resettle in PNG. We came to Australia – Australia should offer us asylum, or give us to a safe country like New Zealand that has already offered to take us. We will happily start our new life there.

Your own constitution says that we are illegal here. PNG High Court said last year that Lombrum detention is illegal and now in the end of October, Australia government said “we are closing it”. But they have built another three centres in town. Where they will dump us in there for years.

How is this not illegal also? What words and phrases have been changed to make it not illegal?

The constitution says that detaining of innocent people in PNG is illegal. It doesn’t say that detaining of innocent people in Lombrum is illegal and legal in other parts of PNG.

Yet the situation remains the same. The semantics may have changed, yet the conditions have not. This is not right. For how long will you keep us on this island against our will?

We are refugees and that means going home to our homeland is not an option we can take. Yet staying in PNG is not giving us our liberty back either.

And we are dying by the policies that you implement. Please don’t kill us anymore. Our six friends have already died by this cruel policy that you have a hand in and support.

Australia, and PNG both have killed refugees who were unarmed and defenceless.

PNG please show some compassion and humanity. You claim to be a Christian country. Yet the way you are treating vulnerable people is against how the Bible says to treat people. Is this how you love your neighbours? Is this showing justice and compassion to those in need? That’s what Jesus told you to do. Instead you are helping Australia harm and torture innocent people and put them in detention for years. You are helping those who are torturing us and want to kill us.

Please consider our plea.

We are defenceless.

We will not fight.

But we plead and ask you to help us have our freedom.

We all are asking, all of PNG authorities that don’t force us to resettle in your country. We have much respect for your people and your country and your law.

If something happens to us, PNG you will be responsible, because you are supporting this cruel policy with Australia.

From now on if ANY of us found dead or hanged outside of detention centre in PNG, it would mean that he has been killed. Because we will not kill ourselves.

Thank you.

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