Detainees face bleak future

IT is a year since Reza Barati was killed in a violent incident on Manus Island.

Again we see desperate people, including many who have been found to be genuine refugees, protesting against the hopelessness of their situation.

There are reports of hunger strikes, detainees sewing their lips together and allegations that water has been withheld.

The Australian government imposes such secrecy that we can only piece together whatever information is released by various sources.

No journalists or independent observers are permitted.

Prisoners at the centre, called “transferees” by the government, are being driven to despair and violence by harsh treatment and the uncertainty of their situation.

Convicted criminals in prison have their human rights respected and can access legal services and social support.

The prison system is publicly accountable.

The only “crime” of the men imprisoned on Manus Island has been to ask Australia for safety and the opportunity to make a decent life for themselves.

The Australian government’s response has been to demonstrate its toughness by demonising and imprisoning these people under extremely harsh conditions while we taxpayers in whose name they are imprisoned are denied knowledge of their treatment.

Steve Kilburn, a former guard at Manus Island, stated on ABC television on January 19: “I don’t think you can guarantee anyone’s safety on Manus Island. There is a potential for violence… what is going on on Manus Island is wrong. We must be able to come up with a better solution.”

When will the government recognise the immorality of its actions?

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