Nurse Speaks Out Against Poor Treatment Of Refugees On Manus Island
Kelly gives a nurses perspective that reflects what a number of us are feeling about the situation unfolding on Manus Island at the moment.
Most people will be aware that there is an urgent humanitarian crisis unfolding on Manus Island as a direct result of Australia’s offshore detention policy that was put in place 4 years ago as a measure to ‘Stop the boats’ and deter desperate people from seeking asylum in our country.
This policy has been controversial from the outset and rarely out the media. Over the past 4 years, reports of riots, sexual assault, inadequate and squalid living conditions, rape, inadequate healthcare, murder, death, suicide and self-immolation have poured out of Manus. The United Nations have stated the treatment of the men on Manus is ‘unsustainable, inhumane and contrary to Australia’s human rights obligations.’
Humanitarian agencies far and wide have condemned Australia’s hard-line and cruel treatment of these people.
Three weeks ago the Australian government withdrew services from the detention centre stating that all asylum seekers are required to go to the new dwellings in Lorengau. From photos that have been taken and reports from those who have access, these new dwellings are not complete nor ready to be lived in. Furthermore the local community has demonstrated itself as being hostile and unwelcoming towards the refugees. The tensions between the asylum seekers and local community have been well documented over the years.
Yesterday, reports and video footage coming out of Manus were that the Papua New Guinean police and special forces had stormed the detention facility, destroyed water and food supplies, forcibly taken refugees phones and arresting refugees in moves to forcibly make them leave the detention centre.
Prominent members in the Australian community are leading the charge, urging the federal government to take action. The Australian Medical Association has requested the government allow an independent group of medical experts access to the Manus Island detention centre to assess the health situation of the men and treat them accordingly.
12 former Australians of the year have written letters to the prime Minister imploring the government to bring these men here.
Thousands upon thousands of concerned citizens have written letters and called the offices of the Prime Minister, Immigration Minister and their local members.
New Zealand has offered repeatedly to take at least 150 of these men and provide them with asylum and refuge in New Zealand in addition to offering 2.7 million dollars to provide support and services for those on Manus.
And yet the Australian government has steadfastly refused to engage or accept any of the solutions on the table in order to end this crisis.
The asylum seekers that remain on Manus are in a dangerous and hopeless situation- threats of violence and death, no opportunity to forge an existence and live a life. They will never marry, have children, study or have jobs. They are stateless. They are in danger. If they weren’t refugees before, they bloody well are now.
For 4 years these men have been persecuted by our government under the guise of keeping our borders safe. Our borders are safe. It is our humanity that is threatened.
Please, please write or call your local member, the Immigration Minister’s office, the PM’s office and make your voice heard.
For those of you in Queensland going to the polls this weekend – make your vote count and let it be known to those in Canberra that as a country this is not who we are.
Stand up and condemn the governments treatment of refugees on Manus Island and let be known that this is not what you want for our country and our future generations.