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Issue #1803      November 15, 2017

Editorial

The un-Australians

It is irony, if not poetic justice, that the Turnbull government, with its un-Australian abuse of the human rights of asylum seekers on Manus Island, is coming apart at the seams as increasing numbers of government representatives in Parliament are exposed as being un-Australians by birth.

Driven by the jackboot mentality of the fascist-minded elements in the Liberal-National Coalition, all the basic elements of the “f” word are there: the brutal disregard of human rights, suppression of democracy, increased exploitation, preparations for war, chauvinism, racism and the abandonment of all moral principles.

As the Guardian went to press the Manus siege was tightened another notch when PNG police and immigration officers entered Oscar and Delta compounds of the Manus detention centre and began emptying the tanks and turning over the water bins being used by the refugees to collected the rain water that has kept the refugees alive the last 10 days.

The officers are also systematically removing tents that the refugees have used for cooking and for sleeping outside to avoid the unbearable heat. More perimeter fencing is being removed leaving the refugees even more exposed to possible attack.

“Everyone in the tropics knows how precious water is and how quickly dehydration can become a serious medical issue. Denied water and with medical help sometimes delayed for hours, refugee lives are being put at risk,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“We are again calling for the immigration minister to end the siege and restore food, water and services.”

Rintoul called those action on Manus – in concert with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s appearance at a lavish fundraising dinner in Sydney – “disgusting”.

“Dutton is kidding himself if he thinks anti-refugee brutality can save the Turnbull government. The siege on Manus, the gratuitous use of state power against defenceless individuals symbolises everything that sees the government relentlessly sink in the opinion polls.”

The PNG Supreme Court has declined to issue an injunction to restore immediately food, water, and power to the Manus detention centre. The Chief Justice found that while the applicant’s (Behrouz Boochani) human rights may have been breached, that damages rather than an injunction is the suitable remedy.

The lawyers in the case will appeal this finding. The decision of the PNG Supreme Court does not alter the inhumanity of the siege on Manus Island, nor alter the role of the Australian government.

Nor does it alter the fact that Manus is unsafe and settlement in PNG is impossible. The onus is still on the government to provide the safety and security that the refugees and asylum seekers need.

The refugees and asylum seekers have made it clear that they will not leave the detention centre. “We had no expectation from the court,” one refugee told the Refugee Action Coalition.

They were unlawfully transported to PNG; they have been unlawfully held in detention. They must be immediately evacuated.

“The Turnbull government will never live down what they have done on Manus,” Rintoul stated, saying that the refugee movement will do whatever it can to support and sustain the refugees inside the detention centre, and keep fighting for the government to bring them here.

More than 300 Manus Island residents have signed a petition calling for all asylum seekers and refugees to be returned to Australia. The petition, organised by the Manus Alliance Against Human Rights Abuse, is addressed to PNG Prime Minister and the PNG Chief Justice

The petition was presented to the governor at the Manus Provincial Government offices and despite some threatening behaviour from the governor towards the petitioners, he personally accepted the petition.

Next article – Fury as government rejects Voice to Parliament

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