Tony Abbott and the Papua New Guinea government plan to shut down a human rights inquiry into human rights abuses in the Manus Island asylum seeker detention centre.
Despite recent violence from locals and PNG police that resulted in the death of one detainee, and serious injuries to 77 more. Not to mention reports and photos of terrible conditions and treatment.
He also said the majority of Manus Island detainees are not genuine refugees, when their claims haven’t even been assessed! Doesn’t this concern you? Now, even if they’re found to be genuine, millions of Australians will believe they’re not, simply because Abbott said so. And how much pressure will the people assessing claims be under to deny them?
Can you imagine the uproar if the Prime Minister had pre-empted Craig Thompson’s case? Or Schapelle Corby’s? But it’s ok to do it to thousands of asylum seekers? When history shows more than 90% of them are most likely genuine refugees. And killing the human rights inquiry because, according to Abbott, it “carried dangers”?! What like revealing actual human rights abuses?
No matter who you vote for, surely you think these latest moves are irresponsible? We have a right to expect more from our leaders. There simply isn’t any evidence to justify this sort of vilification.
Please join me in lobbying the UN to step in. Here’s my email to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Feel free to copy/adapt and send to InfoDesk@ohchr.org.
Please help. The Australian and Papua New Guinea governments are going to shut down an inquiry into human rights violations at the Manus Island detention centre for asylum seekers.
This despite recent violence from locals and PNG police that resulted in the death of one detainee, and serious injuries to 77 more. Not to mention reports and photos of terrible conditions and treatment. Not least of which is the arbitrary detention of people who are merely pursuing their human right to seek asylum. Some of these people have been imprisoned for years, without their asylum claims being processed. And the Australian immigration department has found that 39% of detainees who are imprisoned for a year or more suffer from extreme depression, and 6% suffer from severe depression (http://www.immi.gov.au/About/foi/Documents/FA131200935.PDF). There have been numerous suicide attempts.
Tony Abbott claims a human rights inquiry "carried dangers and should be challenged". Does it not seem likely that these dangers of which he speaks are simply the danger that human rights violations could be revealed? Especially as Abbott has already explicitly condoned the torture of asylum seekers in his defence of the Sri-Lankan government: "sometimes in difficult circumstances difficult things happen" (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/difficult-things-happen-tony-abbott-defends-sri-lanka/story-fn59niix-1226761423014).
What's more, Abbott has pre-empted the outcome of all asylum requests from the centre. He backed PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's unfounded opinion that most of the asylum seekers interviewed so far were not ''genuine refugees'' but ''economic migrants'' (http://www.theage.com.au/national/manus-inquiry-cruelled-20140322-35adw.html). Abbott: "There's a lot that we've seen which justifies that suspicion," he told reporters on Saturday, citing the opinion of former Labor foreign minister Bob Carr that "the vast majority" of those coming by boat were not in genuine fear of persecution if they remained in their homelands. (http://m.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/abbott-and-oneill-agree-no-human-rights-inquiry-for-manus-island-20140322-35a6e.html)
This despite the fact that approx 92% of all boat people to reach our shores since 2008 have been found to be genuine refugees.
Now, even if they're found to be genuine, millions of Australians will believe they're not, simply because Abbott said so. And how much pressure will the people assessing claims be under to deny them? No matter who you vote for, surely you think that's irresponsible? We have a right to expect more from our leaders. There simply isn't any evidence to justify this sort of vilification.
Please step in and ensure that this human rights inquiry is allowed to go ahead.
Your sincerely, Glenn Murray