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Desperate PNG refugee attempts self-immolation after years of neglect

Refugee Action Coalition Media Release

A 46-year-old Iranian refugee doused himself, and an office, in petrol yesterday morning (Wednesday 10 May) threatening to set himself alight.

Abolfath Gheitasi, had gone to the offices of Chatswood at Waigani in Port Moresby, the supposed service provider for refugees in PNG company around 9.15am Wednesday morning, carrying petrol and a lighter. He had poured the petrol over himself, and inside and outside the building.

Firefighters were called to the building, and after a stand-off, with security and PNG immigration officers, Abolfath eventually handed them the lighter.

“The attempted suicide highlights the desperate circumstances for the 88 refugees and asylum seeker still being held in PNG,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Abolfath was one of the first refugees to be transferred to Manus Island after the Rudd government implemented the Pacific Solution II in July 2013. He was accepted to go to the US and did a medical for transfer to the US, three years ago, but is still waiting.

Besides the torture of Manus Island, refugees now in Port Moresby had gone several weeks without income support from Chatswood. PNG officials and UNHCR were warned about Abolfath’s deteriorating situation and threats of self-harm two months ago.

The lack of support for refugees in PNG and Nauru was one of the features of Labor’s budget failure to address the urgent needs of refugees and asylum seekers. Labor has refused to transfer sick refuges from PNG even though refugees are still being transferred from Nauru.

The neglect is also highlighted by the announcement of US president Joe Biden’s visit to PNG to sign a defence pact with PNG and a $32 million assistance package, while dozens of refugees in PNG are still waiting to be resettled in the US. A new joint Australia-US-PNG military deal is expanding the navy base on Manus Island, ironically the base, where refugees were held after 2013.

“It is almost ten years since refugees were transferred by a Labor government to Manus Island. Labor has a particular responsibility to those they dumped there. Refugees are waiting forlornly for resettlement in the US or NZ,“ said Rintoul. “It’s time for Labor to end the mistreatment and uncertainty and bring them to Australia.”


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  1. Williambtm

    I agree with the AIM subscribers concerning our nation’s refugee destroying capacity is outrageous.
    I also wish to hell the Australian government would cease their subservience to the US war dogs.

    For those that care not seek out the facts regarding the Scott Morrison enthused AUKUS Alliance, will one quickly find that
    Australia is living under a false hope that the USA would aid Australia in its time of need being dependant on the USA in
    their so doing.

    How many people in our nation are being beguiled by the US narrative that belies their murderous history, the same with
    its Mexican border refugees that they are unable to properly and humanely being deal with the mexican refugee crisis.
    The US narrative ublished across the world, is little other than a John Wayne Hollywood script.
    As the USA is recognized across the World as the most blathering & untrusted nation of all the nations in our present world.

    The US is bankrupt to the tune of $33 Trillion dollars in unsecuritized currency, meaning its currency has no underlying
    value but is simply printed out valueless fiat banknotes.
    Quantatitive easing programs are nothing other than the printing of internationally valueless Billions of $100 dollar notes.

    Persons that follow then believe the US narrative, are Australia’s most stupid citizens, understand that the US would
    militarily invade Australia even sooner than our government is permitting.

    In comparison the costs of releasing and enabling all the Manus Island & Nauru (also an Island) refugees to become
    Australian citizens, as against this government’s acceptance of the USA blatherings would be far less costly in its

  2. Andrew Smith

    Appalling bipartisan policies of refusing refugees and asylum seekers, then deporting to offshore camps in the name of…? Bigotry, eugenics and creating a hostile environment, may also be linked to slow processing of all visa types under LNP (& Covid border shutdowns) which created a mass of temporary residents.

    No coincidence the UK Tories have similar policies and the same malign influence of the US Tanton Network, according to KPBS indie journalist Binkowski:

    ‘Eugenics, Border Wars & Population Control: The Tanton Network. This line of false and nakedly racist rhetoric, comparing immigrants and refugees to attackers and diseases, is no accident. One could argue that it was the very reason for the press conference’s existence in the first place. The increasingly blatant bigotry in immigration discourse is the culmination of decades of targeted influence by an assortment of largely unknown groups known as the Tanton network.

    The Tanton network is, as its name suggests, a criss-crossing mesh of politicians, lobbyists, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, pundits legitimized by op-eds in major newspapers, and billionaire money.’

    Now deceased Tanton, who can be linked to two influential migration and population NGOs in London, admired the white Australia policy, visited and was hosted by an ‘environmental’ NGO locally.

  3. New England Cocky

    @ Williambtm: Very well said and shockingly accurate analysis of the American parasitic capitalism system.


    In the 20th century, England was going to protect Australia from the ”Yellow Asian Hordes” using the HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales. However, the Japanese Air Force sank both of those warships after the cowardly English surrender of Singapore in 1942. Meanwhile, Churchill demanded that Australian military remain in North Africa ”to protect the Empire”, and only grudgingly agreed to release them to protect Australia thanks to the enthusiasm of PM John Scullin (ALP).

    So, why do any Australian voters believe that surrendering Australian sovereignty to the USA (United States of Apartheid) with Scummo’s USUKA sub ”deal” inhibiting Australian economic development for future decades for no good reason (except possibly providing Scummo with a bountiful post-politics sinecure within the FRWNJs cabal) will protect Australian voters in a world outside America keen to trade rather than fight expensive unproductive wars??

  4. Terence Mills

    You may remember that the Manus Island detainees mounted a successful class action against the Australian government for unlawful imprisonment (after the PNG Supreme Court ruled that detention of people in PNG without them having first been charged and convicted of a crime was unconstitutional).

    This settlement was achieved when the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton realizing that he didn’t have a leg to stand on, agreed to an out of court settlement of $70million to the 1923 asylum seekers who participated in the class action : accordingly each participant would have or should have received around $36,000.

    The question I have after this tragic event is : did the compensation actually get to the individual asylum seekers as $30K in PNG would go a long way – can the author please comment ?

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