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From one hell to another. Children as young as 10 are fleeing extreme violence only to find out that what’s on the other side is more uncertainty, more suffering. These are the children of Australia’s Manus Island detention centre.
I was hoping to be bringing you news today from PNG, where asylum seekers inside the Manus Island detention centre asked GetUp and child advocacy group ChilOut to visit. We had our immunisations and started our anti-malarials, but we’ve just been refused visas to visit the asylum seekers.
Click on the video below to watch a brief message from me explaining what happened, and our plan to help the 34 children and more than 200 adults currently detained on Manus to get their stories out.
With both major parties committed to detaining asylum-seekers in shocking offshore camps, it’s easy for our anger to turn into despair. But I’ve received many emails and phone calls from GetUp members over the past few months encouraging us not to give up — to keep campaigning for fair treatment of asylum seekers. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.
We can’t let offshore processing mean asylum seekers are kept out of sight and out of mind. The only way out of this downward spiral on asylum-seeker policy is to show Australia what offshore processing really means. At the moment, even journalists at the ABC have been refused the ability to visit the detention centres, so we’re doing our very best to help asylum seekers get their stories out despite the obstacles.
Our new immigration Minister, Brendan O’Connor has just returned from Manus Island. We were shocked to hear that he thinks the conditions of the detention centre are “adequate”. That’s the opposite of what UNHCR have said, and what we’re still hearing from our sources on the ground. We can’t take his word for it until there is independent Australian monitoring of human rights, accountability and transparency off-shore.
Click here to find out more: http://www.getup.org.au/out-of-sight-in-our-minds
Sam, for the GetUp team.
PS – In the coming fortnight the Senate will debate an Australian Greens’ proposal that would allow the media and the Australian Human Rights Commission access to off-shore detention centers, like those on Manus Island and Nauru. If there is nothing to hide on Manus Island and Nauru, all parliamentarians should support the Greens’ proposal. In the meantime, we can do our part by getting the stories of asylum seekers in offshore detention centres to the media and the politicians who are playing games with some of the world’s most desperate children: http://www.getup.org.au/out-of-sight-in-our-minds