Starved refugees lose court action. But one lawyer thinks that might present a new opportunity. [TWEETS]

Refugees on Manus Island detention facility
Support us and go ad-free

Around 600 refugees have been held for years on a remote island detention centre by the Australian government.

But now Papua New Guinea (PNG) authorities, acting in conjunction with the Australian government, have stopped all food, running water and electricity getting through to the centre. An injunction sought to end this blockade, but failed. However, the court ruled that the refugees were no longer the responsibility of Australia. And as one lawyer pointed out, the implications of that could be enormous.

Starved refugees lose court action

The PNG government told the refugees – all men – that they had to move to a facility at Lorengau, after the supreme court ruled the detention centre was unconstitutional. But the refugees refused because they fear violence. They have already witnessed murder, riots, beatings, suicides, and attacks by locals and the PNG navy. And recently, they have received death threats.

Then, the PNG authorities cut off supplies:

This reportedly led to sickness:

A court injunction was sought on behalf of Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish Iranian refugee and filmmaker, to end the blockade. But it failed:

The lawyer who thinks the ruling might present a new opportunity…

Although the ruling is a massive disappointment to the refugees, Greg Barns QC (who represented Boochani) made a significant point:

Chief Justice Salami Injia said the Australian government’s responsibility:

ended with the closure of the [Manus regional processing centre], which it operated, and it falls squarely on the government of PNG to take full responsibility.

This is significant because New Zealand had offered to take over 150 of the refugees, but Australia refused that offer. Now, however, Australia is no longer relevant:

One Manus-detained refugee who made it to Canada said:

Solidarity

The refugees’ protest and legal challenge, meanwhile, were complemented by protests in Australia, and supported by condemnations from leading human rights organisations.

While the legal drama in PNG was taking place, for example, the main train line in Australia to Flemington racecourse was blocked by activists supporting the refugees on the day of the Melbourne Cup. A spokesperson said:

We are joining with others across Australia to demand that the Government evacuate the men on Manus immediately and bring them to safety for processing…

And two brave women abseiled from a crane at the racecourse to unfurl a banner:

Rise, one of the activist groups, issued a statement, concluding:

The international community should also condemn Australia… for exploiting less affluent countries such as Papua New Guinea and Nauru and using them as proxies to carry out human rights abuses against refugees.

Condemnation

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) also issued a statement condemning Australia’s treatment of the refugees:

We repeat our overall concerns about Australia’s offshore processing centres, which are unsustainable, inhumane and contrary to its human rights obligations.

A statement was issued by Doctors For Refugees, too. And Human Rights Watch summarised what is happening via video:

PNG should end the illegal detention of refugees and talk directly to New Zealand, Canada and other countries to organise their resettlement; and not just the 600 in the decommissioned centre, but all 800+ still on the island.

Get Involved!

– Read The Canary‘s articles on refugees.

–Support WACA (Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance).

Featured image via screenshot

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed