Letter from an Ex-detainee

MANUS ISLAND DETENTION CENTRE

Asylum seekers stand behind a fence in Oscar compound at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea, Friday, March 21, 2014. Papua New Guinea expects to start resettling refugees detained in Australia’s offshore processing centre on Manus Island as early as May. (AAP Image/Eoin Blackwell) NO ARCHIVING

As an ex-detainee I do not support any form of mandatory detention. As ex-detainees, we continue to suffer from mandatory detention and institutionalised forms of torture. For more than 20 years our communities have experienced death in detention, inhumane and degrading treatment at the hand of the Australian government and we continue to face serious abuses, censorship and mistreatment.

For over 20 years the Australian government has been decriminalising detention policies and breaching their international obligations as a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention. They have totally and absolutely failed in their moral and international obligations.

The recent decision by the PNG Supreme Court has found that the Manus Island detention centre is illegal. Their decision means this: that it is unlawful to detain people seeking asylum in indefinite detention and that seeking asylum is not a crime but a human right.

Three days ago, a refugee set himself on fire in Nauru. One of the main precipitating reasons for his action was his indefinite detention as well as other abusive refugee policies resulting in his death.

Australia’s “Refugee policy” should be called the “Self-destruction policy”, where we are driven to destroy ourselves. Systemic torture of detainees has resulted in serious self-harm and suicide, ever since the Australian government established Detention Centres.

The Immigration minister Peter Dutton said “the approach of this government is not going to change. We are not going to allow people to settle in our country who seek to come here by boat”. Obviously we are not criminals, we are seeking protection. We are those who have been forcibly displaced and are fleeing persecution. The Australian government should treat detainees/refugees with respect and dignity.

As ex-detainees we believe the PNG Supreme Court decision was an ethical and legal decision and I also highly recommend that the Australian government should close detention camps and release all detainees into the community. No one should be deported to danger where they face persecution again! We have been affected by detention policy and this is enough!

While I’m writing this I heard the news that

has passed away in a Brisbane Hospital. Is it just a death? Or was he forced to kill himself? And now who is accountable for it? Why don’t our lives matter to most people in this country? Now Omid’s wife is a widow – who is going to provide her with emotional support?

Finally I must say-Shut down all detention centres both offshore and onshore and release everyone to the community.

By RISE Member and Ex-detainee
Author of this article was in detention for 1 year including offshore and onshore.

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