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Deaths in Detention

By Maria Millers

At the opening session of the Hillsong Conference, our Prime Minister told the 21,000-strong congregation that Australia needed more prayers and love.

So where is the love for those who come to us seeking refuge? How is it that on Friday night yet another young life was lost when a 23-year-old man who had fled war torn Afghanistan six years ago died in the Melbourne Immigration Centre.

The official ‘police speak’ was that there were no suspicious circumstances. But we do know that he was stressed over the delays in his bridging visa and that his medication had been stopped two days earlier. And this was not an isolated incident. Two earlier suicides this year, again young men: An Iraqi national at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre and a young Sierra Leone refugee in Western Australia.

And on Manus Island the despair is even more palpable. Refugee advocates say 26 asylum seekers have attempted suicide or self-harmed since the Coalition’s shock victory nearly two weeks ago and local health providers are struggling to cope.

What level of despair must they all have felt to see no hope and no future other than ending their lives? And what sort of a society are we that tolerates the constant denigration and treatment of these vulnerable people whose only crime has been to seek refuge.

Just yesterday Jan McAdam, Director of the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law reminded us that Australia was breaking International Law in its approach to refugees: “What our principles seek to do is to show a pragmatic as well as a principled way forward.”

Hopefully, other than relying solely on prayers and love, our Prime Minister will heed this advice and show more tangible examples of his faith, in making sure young lives do not become political pawns and the red tape he so assiduously wants to eliminate in other areas of government does not condemn them to living in purgatory.

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  1. Kerri

    Not holding my breath.
    The hypocrite rules us.

  2. nonsibicunctis

    All the illnesses, injuries and deaths of asylum seekers and refugees while in Australian custody are the responsibility of the Australian government and in particular of the Cabinet and the Minister responsible for the policies and decisions made on specific cases.

    This government and its two predecessors have been the meanest, most inhumane, most deceitful, most dishonest and least competent of any in Australia’s history. The only reasons that they were re-elected were the number of false allegations published about the ALP and some of its candidates and the splitting of votes, not least those caused by Clive Palmer’s millions of dollars with of campaigning which he has himself arrogantly declared was aimed at diverting votes from Labor to the LNP.

    The election of a religious Prime Minister, let alone a fanatical and Episcopalian one such as is Scott Morrison is an extremely dangerous event for this nation. Supposedly we have a separation Church and State and indeed, in 2019 we should have the intelligence to understand that belief in myths is no basis on which to build a sound society. History has shown on many occasions and continues to do so to this day of the tragedy and life destroying effects of religious influence and the acts of fundamental and fanatical believers who seek to carry out the letter of the law of their particular religious texts and tenets.

    True believers in Islam, for instance, are known as Muslims and if they follow the laws of Islam they have a duty to kill all non believers in Islam. Genital mutilation is a required action of all parents of male Jewish children, though strangely not female genital mutilation, that is left to several other mostly African and Middle Eastern beliefs. Christianity is no exception, as the recent hypocritical actions taken against Israel Folau have shown. On the one hand Australians supposedly have freedom of religious belief and practice and on the other Israel Folau is castigated and attacked for doing so.

    Why this should concern the LGBQTI community is beyond me because Hell is just another myth and all Folau has really done is what our Prime Minister has also done: shown publicly that he believes in the equivalent of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and worse, the excesses and nasty edicts of religious rules, written without doubt by human beings, and which nastily target those who choose not to join the club. No rational and sensible person should be concerned about such statements, as despicable as they may be, any more than they would be if a Voodoo practitioner, an Astrologist or a modern day Witch was to cast a curse or spell on them.

    A major dance for the Australian nation is the nonsense that is contained within the lobbying for and the serious support being given to the introduction of an amendment to or strengthening, in some way, of current laws relating to freedom of religion. In fact, what our nation needs is an act that guarantees FREEDOM FROM RELIGION. In 2019 we should no longer be subject to decision making and influence in law-making from people who believe in fairy tales and other myths. It is a ludicrous situation and a very dangerous one.

  3. David Bruce

    What is the difference between these detention centres and the concentration camps and gulags of earlier times?

    Both seemed to have been set up to destroy HOPE. As sure as night follows day, these detention centres will haunt the Australian Government in the years to come. Both LNP and Labour have used fear and terror to introduce draconian legislation to control the population. Who really is the enemy here? The people seeking refuge from the carnage we have helped inflict on other countries, or the Australian people?

    How much more of this BS will the Australian people endure before we say, enough is enough? What happens when each state decides to secede from the Commonwealth? In my dreams!

  4. Keitha Granville

    My thoughts exactly David. We may not be openly murdering them and shoving them in ovens, but it amounts to pretty much the same.
    How many of those involved will just say ” I was just following orders “.

    Bring on our own Nuremburg

  5. Anne Byam

    To nonsibicunctis :

    “The election of a religious Prime Minister, let alone a fanatical and Episcopalian one such as is Scott Morrison is an extremely dangerous event for this nation.”

    I hope you don’t think I am being picky here, but the current PM belongs to a Pentecostal church – ( Hillsong – a dubious off-shoot of that sect ). If indeed he were Episcopalian ( Americans use that name in preference to Church of England – or Anglican church ) I would not worry one iota.

    But being Pentacostal …. yikes. They have a belief system that creates in each follower, the sense that they alone have ALL the answers, ALL the truth – and if one rejects their teachings from outside their church … that person is ignored, maligned and viewed as utterly inferior to them. Some believe that they can be above the law.

    I know what I am talking about, as it was most unfortunate for me, that I had anything to do with several of their kind, and was shocked to attend ( while they were proselytising as hard as they could ) one of their ‘meetings’ where many were ‘speaking in tongues’ – unintelligable utterings or words of another language, not recognised as being one used on this planet. This is the way many Pentecostals ‘speak to God’ … and hope for spiritual gifts or ‘signs’ from him. I have often wondered how far our PM goes in this spiritual endeavour ??? It scares the hell out of me.

    If he is a true believer in this sect with its evangelical nuances then he perhaps ( or is it too much to ask for ?? ) he might have a teeny weeny conscience, as a great believer in the utter total truth of the bible with the following :

    ” Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things which are also abominations: “haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.”

    I think Scomo qualifies for a few of those ‘abominations’ …. but then – as he is part of the upper echelon of worshippers ( being Pentecostal !!! ) … he perhaps thinks he is not any of those things and can do and say anything he likes with impunity.

    You said it is an extremely dangerous event for this nation. I venture to go further and say it is a terrifying prospect to have this man in charge – for the reasons I have mentioned —- and for many other reasons associated with his so called “beliefs”. It is indeed, extremely dangerous.

  6. paul walterl

    Funny how the Christians gripe about “persecution”, the way they persecute these people (and others).

  7. nonsibicunctis

    I don’t think that you are being picky. In fact, I thank you for the correction.

    I was and am aware of Morrison’s church affiliation being Pentacostal and simply wrote the wrong thing. I apologise to anyone who may have read my post and been offended by that error.

    As for my comments regarding the dangers of religious belief generally, I make no apologies. The evidence of history, in its full sense, i.e. including that being made right now, day by day, is overwhelming.

    Thanks again for correcting my error.

  8. Hotspringer

    Australia voted for this, the majority supports this. Vox populi vox dei.

  9. Terence Mills

    Dutton had one job to do when he took over from Morrison as Immigration Minister and that was to arrange processing and resettlement of those asylum seekers held in indefinite detention. In this he has failed miserably, not because it was a task that was too hard but mainly because he wasn’t and isn’t interested.

    Turnbull intrervened briefly and came to an agreement with Obama and that did lead to the resettlement of some to the USA but there was obvious push against this by Trump. Dutton has also made snide comments from time to time to the effect that some of those in the USA want to be returned to Nauru and Manus – make of that what you will.

    Dutton has at various times told us that these people have actually been resettled and are not detained on Nauru or Manus and that it’s all settled ; nothing to see here.

    When you are dealing with a persistant and consistent liar you need to acknowledge that he has no intention of doing anything for the future welfare of those people that we have detained without the benefit of natural justice.

    We should remember that in Australia (and Papua New Guinea but not it seems on Nauru) it is unlawful to
    detain people against their will and without the due process of the law and conviction and sentencing if they are found guilty of a crime. Despite Dutton’s rumour mongering suggesting that these asylum seekers are murderers, pedophiles and rapists it is interesting that no criminal charges have resulted.

    Ultimately the question of unlawful detention will go before the courts in Australia and we will be found wanting and substantial damages will be awarded to these people.

    Let’s not forget that we (the Australian taxpayers) have already funded damages to the extent of $70 million to current and former Manus Island asylum seekers and refugees over their illegal detention in dangerous conditions in what was Australia’s largest human rights class action settlement. This was just the beginning and there are further legal actions pending which, inevitably will cost us dearly both in monetary terms and in terms of Australia’s reputation.

  10. Freethinker

    And the arrogant Marise Payne has committed to pursuing China over its arbitrary mass detention of more than one million Muslim Uighurs.

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