[act-ma] MON 1/26 6PM Boston | Vigil in Solidarity with Manus Island (Australia) Detainees

Umang Kumar umkumar at gmail.com
Thu Jan 22 09:10:25 PST 2015

Boston Vigil in Solidarity with Manus Island Detainees

When: 6pm Monday 26 January 2014
Where: Outside the W Hotel, 100 Stuart Street, Boston


 Quick background -
‘Guantanamo of the Pacific’: Australian asylum seekers wage hunger
strike at offshore detention site’ Democracy Now!

This candle light vigil outside the ‘Australia Day Boston Dinner’
calls attention to the Australia’s government treatment of asylum
seekers at its off-shore detention facility on Manus Island, Papua New

 The vigil stands in solidarity with the approximately 900 asylum
seekers on Manus Island on a large-scale hunger strike in protest of
Australian and PNG government plans to permanently settle refugees in
PNG. The hunger strike began on the 13 January and there have been
numerous self-harm and suicide attempts as part of the protests with
asylum seekers sewing their lips together, swallowing razor blades and
ingesting detergent.

In a letter to the Australia people asylum seekers on Manus Island
write: ‘We can tell you today this is enough, 18 months of suffering
here. You claim humanity and justice, but there is none of this here.
We want to ask what kind of case takes more than 18 months to resolve?
We are not toys for you to play with and not animals to imprison us
here. We can say that when we woke up today, we are resolved to die
here in order to bring back our dignity and our freedom.’

 The vigil calls on the Australia government to close the Manus Island
Regional Processing Centre.


Manus Island was first used by Australia as an off-shore detention
facility (along with Nauru) for asylum seekers arriving by boat in
2001. In 2008 it was closed by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
fulfilling a key 2007 election promise to end the offshore processing
system. The center was re-opened in November 2012. Transfield Services
has a $1.22 billion contract to operate the facility.

 The detention center houses over 1000 people claiming asylum in
Australia, including Iranian, Pakistani, Syrian, and Afghan nationals
who have fled war, chilling acts of torture, threats of death, or
profound discrimination. The UN Committee Against Torture has
described the detentions of asylum seekers on Manus Island as
‘unlawful and inhumane’. Amnesty International has documented numerous
human rights violations at Manus Island. They found that ‘The combined
effect of the conditions of detention on Manus Island, the open-ended
nature of that detention, and the uncertainty about their fates to
which detainees are subjected amounts to cruel, inhuman, and degrading
treatment or punishment. Moreover, some conditions of detention,
particularly the housing of detainees in P Dorm, on their own violate
the prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment.’

 Since the center reopened in 2012, there have been significant
tensions rising between local communities and detainees. These
tensions, combined with ongoing issues with detention center
management and detainee mistreatment, promulgated large protests and
center unrest. On 17 February 2014, 70 asylum seekers were injured,
some seriously, and Reza Berati, a 23 year old Iranian asylum seekers
was killed in violent clashes at the Centre. An Australian Parliament
Senate Committee Report found that this violence was ‘eminently
foreseeable’ and that the Australian government had ‘failed in its
duty’ to protect asylum seekers under its control. It also recommended
that the Australian government acknowledge and accept responsibility
for human rights violations arising from the incident.  The Committee
also recommended that the Australian Government facilitate appropriate
access to the detention center for UN representatives, lawyers,
journalists, and the Australian Human Rights Commission. There is an
ongoing media blackout at the detention center.

In October 2014 another Iranian asylum seeker, 24 year old Hamid
Kehazaei died from severe septicemia after cutting his foot. Leaked
documents reveal a pattern of medical negligence on the island,
including untreated skin infections, tooth decay and tropical
diseases. There have also been allegations of sexual abuse at the
detention facility.

For further information on the conditions at Manus Island see:

·      ‘The Truth about Manus’ (Amnesty International):
http://truthaboutmanus.com/ and their report ‘This is Breaking People:
Human Rights Violations at Australia’s Asylum Seeker Processing Centre
on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea’

 ‘Asylum seeker conditions inhumane and unlawful, UN Committee tells
Australia’ (10 November 2014)

 ·      Legal and Constitutional Affairs Reference Committee ‘Incident
at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 February to 18 February
2014’ (December 2014)

·      ‘Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei died from a rare
bacterial infection from Manus Island: report’ (4 October 2014):

For further information on the current protests see:

·      Timeline of the protests see:

 ·      For a letter from the asylum seekers to the Australian public
see: http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=37413

·      Recent articles on the protest

o   ‘Manus Island: first refugees moved out of detention as hunger
strike continues’ (21 January)

o   http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jan/17/manus-island-hunger-strikes-continue-as-detainees-vow-not-to-give-up-protests

o   http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jan/18/manus-island-four-asylum-seekers-solitary-confinement-tensions-escalate

o   http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/manus-island-protest-escalates-up-to-700-detainees-on-hunger-strike-20150118-12sszu.html

·      Refugee Action Collective (RAC): http://www.refugeeaction.org.au/?p=3671

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep"

More information about the Act-MA mailing list