The Disgrace that is Manus Island

Indefinite punishment for refugees. Thanks Kevin Rudd, Thanks Tony Abbott. What a disgrace.

Please read this message from Amnesty’s Graeme McGregor who has just finished a visit to the Manus Island detention centre:

While many journalists have been denied access, our Amnesty research team was let inside. Now for the first time we're able to reveal what life and conditions are like inside this secretive detention centre.

What we found inside was bleak, and far worse than we anticipated [1]. The entire system is designed to mentally break asylum seekers and force them to return from where they've fled. In one compound we found 112 asylum seekers crammed into a sweltering, windowless shed.

Asylum seekers are routinely humiliated from the moment they arrive. They're referred to by their boat numbers instead of their names. They're denied enough water, medical help, contact with their families. They lack basic necessities like clothing, soap and shelter from the extreme heat. Some told us they have contemplated suicide because of the harsh conditions.

Medical professionals told us that they are unable to treat serious illnesses, and that conditions are contributing to depression, anxiety and trauma. They were frustrated with the lack of mental health services and basic sanitation provided - and the complete lack of response from Australian authorities to their requests.

Most of the people we spoke to had fled war-torn countries, or situations of extreme discrimination in countries like Afghanistan, Darfur, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria. To see people so hopeless and broken was heart-breaking.

There are almost 2,000 people being detained on Manus Island and Nauru.

The government spends over $1 billion a year to keep them locked up - yet only ONE asylum claim been processed since they opened.

Imagine enduring these conditions each day with no information about when you can begin your life again. Many of the men we spoke to pleaded for Amnesty's help. I won't stop campaigning until they can live in safety and dignity.

Graeme McGregor
Refugee Campaign Coordinator
Amnesty International Australia

PS: If you haven't already, please sign our pledge demanding a more humane approach to asylum seekers.

[1] The truth about Manus Island, 11 December 2013

[2] Manus Island detention centre inhuman, violates prohibition against torture: Amnesty International, ABC News, 12 December 2013

Amnesty slams Manus detention centre, Sky News, 12 December 2013

Gay asylum seekers told they could be reported to PNG police, Amnesty says, The Guardian, 11 December 2013



These boat people knew the risks! And in case you haven't noticed Graeme, there are ever increasing numbers of homeless, mentally ill, suicidal, unemployed, poverty stricken, sick people (on long waiting lists for surgery) in Australia. Get real Graeme!