Today’s Guardian article by Senator Nick McKim gives clarity and truth to some of the misinformation or doubts that proliferate about the crisis on Manus Island. To anyone who is asking questions about the refugees and their situation, there are some objective, informed answers. Here at this website too, we’re aiming to provide a clear picture with explanatory background information and expert research so that the facts are out there.
So here are some basic truths that many might feel should be coming from our government instead of the ‘spin’ they send out that unfortunately serves only politicians and not the public.
Q: Why don’t the men on Manus Island move to the transit camps where the government says they will have access to all amenities?
A: As the UNHCR has repeatedly made clear, the Lorengau facility was a building site as recently as last week, and was in no fit state for refugees when services were cut off. Based on leaked photos, the site has been described as “half-finished security fences, incomplete sewerage works and demountable buildings still not secured on a muddy site local residents can walk through at will.“ And even if there were adequate facilities, the frequent and horrifying attacks on refugees in the community mean that the Manus men feel safer in the closed detention centre, the place where PNG navy personnel assaulted them and fired over 100 rounds at them earlier this year.
Q: Why don’t the men move to Nauru or become part of the US resettlement deal?
The Nauru facility is another prison for people who have committed no crime. Why would anyone who has been incarcerated for 4 years and seen and felt the horrendous effects of that choose to relocate for another unlimited ‘stay’ in the same circumstances when their initial objective was to be free from harm and imprisonment? As for the US option, Malcolm Turnbull made it clear to Donald Trump that the new US President was under no obligation to agree to resettle any detainees – merely to consider them through an assessment process. 25 Manus Island refugees have been accepted for permanent resettlement in the US. A week later the the Trump administration committed to cutting back their country’s refugee intake even further and after a vehicle attack in New York on October 31 that left eight people dead, the US President ordered the Department of Homeland Security to step up its “extreme vetting program”. So the chances of 600 refugees on Manus Island being resettled in the US now seems virtually impossible.
Q: Why aren’t we getting the full picture from our media?
A: The government have continually refused to make public details of the offshore detention situation (and of related issues like boat turn-backs). And, the media have had no/ limited access to the Manus detention centre. When the crisis accelerated following the cessation of power, food and water, only certain journalists/political representatives were allowed access to the camp by Australian immigration authorities …
Q. But the policy to ‘stop the boats’ has worked – saved lives as sea, stopped people smugglers and prevented illegal immigrants landing on our shores, hasn’t it?
A: No. The boats haven’t stopped coming because there are more and more people in danger in the world looking for a safe place. Many people smugglers are just taking desperate people on longer and more perilous ocean journeys so more lives have been lost at sea as a result.
And Australian authorities are still turning back boats in the waters off northern Australia. The only difference is that the information on those is kept concealed.
In addition, anyone landing on our shores seeking asylum is not ‘illegal‘ – they have every right to enter a country without the usual authorisation when they are fleeing a territory where their life or freedom is threatened under Article 31 of the UN Refugee Convention.
There is more information on all the ‘Read’ pages of this site – all linked to reliable sources including validated statistics and factual documentation.
Perhaps one QUESTION we should all be asking our Prime Minister and our Immigration Minister is why they won’t provide us with the truth about the way our country has been treating asylum seekers.
And perhaps the ANSWER to the question ‘what should happen to the men on Manus Island?‘ is best provided by those who have and utilise ALL the FACTS and who possess the desire to do what is right – legally, morally and even economically.