Death-in-custody on Manus

i know this is a long post but i believe it is more than necessary

whatever the true facts are on mannus island’s detention camp riots/attacks over recent days there is one salient truth that stands above all the abbott/morrison secrecy and that is that both have more blood on their hands by their fascist, racist and xenophobic ‘solutions’ to the continuing flow of asylum seekers attempting to find relief and succour in this country.

as is their right as legitimate asylum seekers under the un declaration on the rights of refugees of which australia has been not only a signatory since its inception but had been a member of some standing. that proud historic stance has been so thoroughly trashed that australia is now continually named by the un as a serial offender. see second report below.

recently this association was contacted by 2 iranian refugees who wished to obtain an aboriginal passport each. they have read the pledge that needs to be agreed to prior to any issuing of an aboriginal passport and have stated their full agreement to its content. isja does not question why they, or any other refugee, wishes to obtain a passport but we know that most, if not all, want to show their respect and support to the traditional owners of the stolen lands of australia.

it is clearly explained to every refugee applicant, apropos to non-aboriginal australians who are also eligible, that whilst the aboriginal passports are for travel only through the aboriginal lands, they carry within them no higher status. they are not recognised by any australian government nor are they ever likely to be so recognised. they are of no use in any claim to their refugee status to remain in australia. yet still they apply.

i have several iranian friends who have been successfully settled in this country, despite asio visits, and they are as supportive of aboriginal human rights issues as we are of theirs.

for the federal governments of this country to single out iranian asylum seekers as being unwanted, as being the ‘other’, as not being truthful in their claims, is a great frustration and an offence to me. the iranian people are living under a fundamentalist theocracy that dictates every issue of their lives on a daily basis. aboriginal and torres strait islanders live out our lives under a fundamentalist, corrupt, colonialist elective oligarchy. we are similar but different.

that iran, aka persia, has a long and proud history goes without saying. so too did iraq, both being muslim countries. when australia’s government meekly followed the usa as a member of the ‘coalition of the willing’ we were responsible for setting up the sectarian genocide that has beset iraq since we ‘saved’ it from saddam hussain.

iran is caught between two perfect storms, the first being its own dictatorship and the second being us/isreali foreign policy. why do we not therefore duly recognise the claims of the asylum seekers from both iraq and iran? see first paragraph above.

to send them to mannus island in papua new guinea, along with the tamil asylum seekers, breaks the un declaration but to inform them, probably with great glee, that even despite their found legitimacy as refugees they will not be allowed to settle in australia smashes that un declaration beyond repair. all governments since and including bob hawke’s has allowed us to reach this most abysmal low in crimes against the human rights of others.

as abbott and morrison play an insane version of their colonialism against the sovereignty of indonesia, so too do they play the colonial bully in png and nauru. whilst they were successful in using aid dollars to png to blackmail compliance from the government of png they, both governments, did not consult with the people of mannus island who do not want the detention camp to be there. at all. ever.

hence the assaults perpetrated upon the asylum seekers sent there against the will of both refugee and native. that png police were also involved shows the high level of outrage and dissatisfaction within the mannus island community.

this has lead to at least one reported death of an iranian on the island. many serious injuries were also caused by the attacks. it must be remembered that those allocated to the care of the people in the camp by g4s officers and staff cowardly fled leaving those in the compounds to the illogical rage of the attackers.

the death of any person in custody is indeed a tragedy but for one caused by the inhumane practices of a country in which asylum, hope and succour had been sought to my mind is doubly tragic. i can not find a name even for this person who was shot as a victim of mob violence so i am even barred by the abbott/morrison ‘operational security’ to even honour his name. that is the level to which i have been forced to show my humanity to him. or is it her? i just do not know.

the first article below from the independent australia report is an open letter by several iranian writers who tell their own stories in their own words. both men and women. also, interestingly for me, is an account from a kurdish couple. i have been much in favour of a kurdish nation for the kurds for many years since i first became aware of their struggle for their traditional lands. sadly nationalistic politics have kept them from their dream, and their right, for too many years. iraq,iran, syria and turkey need to hand them back their lands.

finally a message, three in fact, to abbott, morrison and all those other politicians who call themselves christians.

the first is that as you go to your churches today to appear before your god, will you be saying a prayer for the refugee who has died. will you be praying for the spent lives of all those who have died in your detention camps? and those at sea, like siev x? or will you only pray for you and yours?

i and others, whether christian or no, will however pray or honour their memory.

the second is specifically to abbott and morrison. when you go to your church today to pray to your god would you please explain to him how your self-recognised christian values equate and satisfy your statement that “the government would not succumb to moral blackmail and would ensure that the camps were run fairly, if necessary, firmly.

i would be interested in any answer given.

and thirdly, none of you speak in my name. never. ever.


ray jackson
indigenous social justice association

2013 Laureate
Prix de l’Homme de Francais
(French Human Rights Medal 2013)

(m) 0450 651 063
(p) 02 9318 0947

1303/200 pitt street waterloo 2017

we live and work on the stolen lands of the gadigal people.

sovereignty treaty social justice

Independent Australia

Open letter to Australia from Manus Island detainees

Photos have now surfaced of Manus Island immigration detainees.  Here, IA provides moving first-hand accounts from them speaking about their appalling conditions – along with more images detailing Australia’s shame.

Manus mother washing Manus mother washing.

Is it because we have no family already in Australia? This was one question they asked us when interviewing us before we left Australia.  Why does having no relatives in Australia make us any less worthy or in need of Australia’s protection and help?  How is it fair that this should be the deciding reason?

“Do you need a wheelchair” was another question they asked.  Is it because we are healthy?

While waiting in Christmas Island, we tried so hard to show that we are good people, with honest hearts and intentions.  We tried to help in any way we could.  We were always co-operative and didn’t cause any trouble.

We volunteered.  I sorted clothing.  (Iranian woman)

I helped by interpreting for the Serco officers.  They called me their “favourite interpreter” (Iranian man)

In contrast, there were others on Christmas Island from the same boat we were on, who behaved badly, who caused trouble, or who were at times aggressive to officers or spoke badly to women.

Yet these people are still in Australia, with the opportunity to live and be processed in Australia.  It seems the nicer you are, the more respectful and compliant and helpful you are, the more likely it is that you will be sent from Australia to be processed off shore.

How can this be fair or just? How can you treat the same people in the same situation in such different ways, How can this be called justice?

The process of being removed to Manus Island was also traumatic and filled us with fear and emotions we did not expect to experience again after we had left Iran.

At 6. 30am in morning they came to take us to a “meeting”.

I didn’t have time to brush my hair or change my sleeping clothes.  We were taken to a room where there were a large number of Serco officers.  They were big, muscular men who looked intimidating, carrying sticks and spray.  They were different to the officers we had come to know while at Christmas Island.  They told us nothing, but did body checks and then put us on a bus. (Iranian woman)

There were other people on bus.  We still knew nothing about what was going to happen to us.  It reminded us of Iran.  We wondered what their intentions with us were.

We thought “Is this Australia?”

The bus took us to another area we think were Immigration offices.  There were Sri Lankan people there also and we were separated into ethnic groups.  We were told by a man with a big smile on his face we would be transferred to PNG.  “I will never forget his face and his smile as long as Alive.” (Iranian woman)

We didn’t even know where PNG was.  We were not allowed to ask questions.  This was such bad news for us.

We were told Serco would pack all our things and they would be sent with us to PNG.

Manus children. Manus children “playing”.

We waited a long time.  Later, after about two hours someone came and spoke to us individually in family groups.  Several guards were with us.  We were told because we were healthy and had no family in Australia we were being sent to another country.  We were not allowed to see any of our friends to say goodbye.  I was asked if I had any fears about going to PNG, I replied I was very scared about this.  I was scared for my daughter.  (Iranian woman)

We were searched again, even under my tongue, my hair, behind my ears, our belongings were packed.  We never returned to our room.  (Iranian woman and man)

Our property was not treated with respect.  Clean things were thrown in with dirty things.  Some items, important to us, were lost, and never arrived in PNG.

After many hours of waiting, we were put on another bus and taken to the airport.  The cruel treatment continued.  We felt like criminals.

There were now many other officers, we think they were Federal police.  They took video footage of everything that was done.  They sat near us and stared at us constantly the whole trip.  Even if we went to adjust our belts to make them more comfortable we were told not to.

The temperature was very cold.  No blankets were provided for the trip and when we asked for one we were told they were not allowed to give it to us.  We were on the plane for many hours, and received only one small sandwich and water.

When we used the toilet on the plane we were accompanied by a guard and the toilet door was not allowed to be fully shut.  This was humiliating for us and again made we feel like dangerous criminals, who were guilty of some serious crime.

When the plane finally landed at PNG we were marched out of the plane one by one by the officers.  I wanted to walk out with my daughter.  I was so scared.  They wouldn’t let me.  (Iranian woman)

No information was given to us on the whole trip.  We became even more scared during this trip and wondered where we were being taken to.

We left Iran because of our fear of the unjust, cruel, inhumane way people are treated.  We never expected to have those feelings of fear again.  There were times when because of this treatment and the lack of information we wondered if our lives were under threat, what are they going to dote us?

This experience was more traumatic for us than the boat trip we undertook to reach Australia. Then, our life was in the hands of nature.  But here in Australia, where we expected just treatment, our lives were in the hands of people who made a choice to treat us in this cruel and demeaning way.  This is very hard for us to understand.  I was thinking all the time I didn’t want to bring my daughter to this.  This is why I left Iran.  (Iranian woman)

Regardless of Australia’s policy on asylum seekers there must be a better way to treat human beings than this.

We have never committed a crime.  We have always sought to help others and be cooperative and to show we are good people who can contribute to Australia.  We are just people seeking alive free from persecution and fear.

No door, no windows and barely any protection from malaria carrying mosquitos. No door, no windows – and no protection from malarial mosquitos. http://tinyurl. Com/lyaj7uk

What we desire we still desire what led us to take this dangerous journey – freedom and justice.

We have come to understand more about why Australia is doing these policies, but we plead do not make us the victims of politics like happens in Iran.

We ask simply that our basic human rights be respected and that we have the opportunity to present our case and show who we really are, why we need asylum, and what we can contribute to Australia.

We ask to be treated fairly, and be given the same opportunities and treatment that the people who came on the same boat we were on are receiving.

We ask not to be forgotten, for people to come and meet us and hear our stories and get to know us as real people, not as boat numbers.

Most of all we have the same desires as you have, to be happy, and live in a country where there is freedom, respect for human rights, safety and respect for the law, and opportunities through hard work and good character to have a good life.

That is all we seek and ask for.

It’s just too hot on Manus to sleep inside.


Hello I’m Zohreh Yousefian.  I was born in Abadan, Islamic Republic of Iran.  My family experienced war when I was just four years old.

We migrated to Shiraz.  I started studying and even as a woman I graduated from University after4 years of study as a Bachelor of Accounting.

Then I began teaching in college and have continued this for 11 years.  During this time I also completed an acting certificate from Farhang & Ershad (Iranian Department).

I come from a country which does not respect basic woman’s rights.  In comparison with males, females haven’t equality in having access to jobs or equal salaries.  Woman have no chance to become a singer or to do simple things like going to the stadium or motor biking.  No make-up in the street is allowed and they have to wear HEJAB because in Islam it’s Haram (must do that).

As an example, I gave up my job after eleven years with no insurance or guarantee for the future.

In Iran, men have all the rights in a divorce.  For example, most ladies who decide to leave their husbands after a long time of suffering and even sometimes violence, have to give up all their rights to property, support and often even their children, when they sign the divorce papers. Unfortunately there is no protection for females, even after separating.

In such a Muslim society women have to tolerate discrimination and being looked down on adjudged.  Divorced women also are often misused and treated very badly.  It is therefore common to find women hopeless and with no confidence.

Faced with this situation, I decided to leave everything behind and undertake a journey to a place where there would be peace and freedom, and to do this even though I was afraid and didn’t have any certainty about my future.  This was better than what I was experiencing in my country.

This discrimination, oppression and unfair laws affect many young people in my country.  I lost my brother at the age of 28 because of these disasters.  That is why I decided to run away from Iran with my only brother that I have.  We hadn’t time even to say goodbye to friends.  We risked our life in the hope of having freedom, safety and tranquillity and living in peace.

Just remember, I’m a human like you, and I have my own rights in such a short life, to live like agree bird.

Manus mother washing.

Story Two

Hooshang and I got married 21 years ago and our daughter (Hediye) was born three years later. She grew up in a society where there was no freedom, justice or safety.  As a mother, I was always looking after her.  My daughter was born Muslim, but three years ago she said, “I want tube an agnostic.”

I was worried about her, that she may get in trouble because of her beliefs and political views.  Isa lots of boys and girls arrested by the government and never returned back to their families.  I didn’t want anything to happen to my daughter.  She is my everything.  My husband and I really love her.  We didn’t want to lose her like other parents, who lost their children and weren’t allowed to speak about their loss.  We left everything behind in search for freedom, justice and safety.  As parents, we were looking for a safe place for our daughter but we didn’t find it in our country.

For 37 years I lived in Iran.  I’ve never been respected as a woman.  There was always some differences between men and women.  In Iran, women are like entertainment.  Women have no custody of their children.  There is no one at the back of a woman; women have no support.

My husband was exposed to dangerous chemicals many years ago, in the war between Iran and Iraq.  After this, he started losing his hair.  He lost his eyelashes, eyebrows, and all the hair on his body.  He became depressed and he stayed in the house for 6 months.  After that, he was mocked in society.  He was ignored by the government.

Our family is looking for safety, justice, freedom and honesty.  We want to live free.  We want to live with peace of mind.

Manus camp for the disabled. Manus camp for the disabled. http://independentaustralia. net/WordPress-opt/wp-content/2013/01/Manus-camp-for-disabled.jpg

Story Three

This is Aghil Yousefian.  You can call me Aria. I was born on 28 July 1984, in a family that experienced war.  I had to start working when I was 8 with my father selling clothes.  I grew up in country which is Islamic Republic where everything is judged by religion. Time went past and I got my Diploma and graduated high school.  I started kick boxing.  After two years, I went to Compulsory Military Service.  During this time, I won silver medal in National Championship.  After the end of military service, I graduated with a referee certificate, and coaching certificate of martial arts.  But none of them were useful for finding a job or helped me got college or gain a scholarship.

Another tragedy occurred in my family.  My brother died of a heart attack, caused by the stress and pressure of his life

I have always loved music as long as I can remember.  I started playing drums in Heavy Metal style, which is my passion.  In the last four years, before I came to Australia, this became very dangerous for me.  I did playing with lots of difficulties.  Because Heavy Metal is completely prohibited and illegal in Iran, and as I mentioned before because of the religion and misjudments, it’s known as “Evil Music.” Government officials and the Religious who are in charge will arrest you and take you to the Intelligence Department and anything can happen to you then.

Musicians are therefore doing their music underground.  Many teachers are not allowed to teach in Institutes.  You must have a certificate and be doing Iranian Classical and Pop.  No Concerts, no nothing.  We couldn’t even record our covers in studios because the owners were scared of doing that.  The place we were practicing and training was completely secret, except for two teachers of mine and close friends who trained with me.

But everything became worse than before.  In an underground concert, more than 60 fans were arrested, charged and locked up.  Players were taken to Intelligence.  Two teachers of mine were arrested also.

After those happenings, I changed my job to plumbing in the countryside.  I sold my drums, changed my place, changed my mobile phone, and had no contact with anyone but family.  I became depressed, lost weight – from 88 kg to close to 72 kg.  I deleted every history of my music from my life because of my fear of being arrested by the government who were intent on stopping this music.  During this time six musicians that I knew were arrested in their training place.  After that, no-one contacted each other, even on Facebook.

If you want to be employed in a company, you have to be Muslim and pass an interview first if you want to be a professional musician or even hold musical performances, you have to have permission of the religious, who are in charge.  The type of music I practiced and enjoyed would never be allowed or tolerated.  Women are not allowed to become a singer because in Quran it says women’s voice is HARAM (not accepted in Islam Religion).

Can you imagine what it’s like living in a country that has oil, gas, mines, a long history of more than 5,000 years, but no freedom or safety, no respect and equality for females?!

However brave or gutsy you are, you still cannot say your opinions, because of the death penalty and the fact that executions in Iran are as common as eating a piece a cake.

The reason why my sister Zohreh and I ran away to Australia is because we think everything is the opposite here to what we experienced there.

Aria, 9/12/2012, Quarantine, Manus Island, Papua New Guinea

Manus child sleeping. http://tinyurl. Com/qz8fmwj

Story Four

We are Hemet and Khadijeh.  We are a very young couple and we are targeting freedom and tube safe.  We have been in so many difficult situations to achieve our goal.

We left Iran because of racism to Kurdish people.  In Iran, there is no respect or fair treatment for us.  They stop us from achieving our goal of freedom and safety.  In Iran, there is no voice for the Kurdish people.

We have no freedom to marry.  The government controls our life.  There is no freedom to make decisions about our life or choice.  The government decides everything.

For example:

Marriage – you can only marry a Kurdish person, you have no choice in your partner. Kurdish people are limited to maximum diploma level education. Sometimes, girls are forbidden to work. There is no freedom to practice any religion other than Islam. There are many things you can’t discuss if you’re a girl, and girls are not treated with respect. To be a woman in Iran and Kurdish is very, very, hard. Jobs are hard to find and there is no equal access to technology or training or education.

We had very little money and it was very hard to make a living.  There is no future, opportunity or life in this country.

We left for safety and to find freedom.  This is no way to live.  We chose to leave.

We were hurting so bad we didn’t think about the ocean and death because freedom was more important for us.  We would choose death rather than live like this.

We arrived in Australia but have found only a life like what we had.  Our opportunity, our hopes, our goals we were looking for seem to be gone, to be dead.  All hope is dead in our heart.

Why have we been bought to Manus Island?

It feels like we are at the end of the world.  We are thinking this is not life, death is better than existing like this.

It is a big world, but it feels like there is no place for us.  Why is there no justice anywhere in the world for us?

We are not guilty of anything but wanting freedom and safety.

Manus children, trying to keep cool.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-No Derivs 3. 0Australia License

U. N.  Office Criticizes Australia Detention Policies


Tony Abbott.  Saeed Khan/Agence France-Presse Getty Images

Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers sent to offshore processing centres is cruel, inhuman and degrading and it violates international law, the United Nations human rights office said Friday.

It called for an investigation and punishment of those responsible for an outbreak of violence at a centre in Papua New Guinea that houses asylum seekers sent there after trying to get to Australia.

Clashes between inmates and guards at the Manus Island processing centre in Papua New Guinea this week left one person dead and 77 injured.  Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the United Nations human rights office in Geneva, noted reports that private security guards employed at the Manus Island center were involved in the violence and added that states maintain their human rights obligations when they privatize delivery of services such as security, and must take steps to investigate, redress and punish human rights abuses by third parties.  Prime Minister Tony Abbott elected in 2013 partly on the promise of a tough policy toward migrants and asylum seekers, said the government would not succumb to moral blackmail and would ensure that the camps were run fairly, if necessary, firmly.

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