Category Archives: Our Press Releases & Documents

The Lethal Politics of Brinkmanship: On Banning Asylum Seekers and Refugees from Entering Australia

Brinkmanship: the political practice of pursuing an already dangerous policy to the very limits of safety in order to up the ante against your political opponent.

What other term but ‘brinkmanship’ can best describe the latest announcement by the Federal Government to ban asylum seekers and refugees in the offshore immigration detention centres of Manus and Nauru from ever entering Australia? The ban would block them from obtaining any visa that would enable them to enter the country, including tourist and business visas.

This latest move by the Federal Government must be seen as an exercise in lethal brinkmanship that cuts along a number of axes:

  1. it challenges the seeming opposition, Labor, to continue to maintain the bi-partisan choreography of state violence against asylum seekers and refugees that has seen it in lockstep with virtually every move made by the Federal Government;
  2. it strategically assimilates what are scripted as the more extreme policies of One Nation into the normative fold of the Federal Government’s apparatus of biopolitical governmentality; as One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, remarked: it was ‘good to see that it looks like the Government is now taking its cue from One Nation. Just like last time [in the Howard Government years]’ (ABC News ). In effect, it clearly exposes through this incorporative move the institutionalised racism of the Australian state that can so easily accommodate, through its Federal Government, what are otherwise branded as ‘strident’ or ‘extreme’ One Nation policies. ‘Centre’ and ‘margin,’ through this move, no longer hold; rather there is only a continuity and exchange of structural racism between these nominally different political parties;
  3. it provokes One Nation, precisely because of the Government’s incorporation and normalisation of its policy positions, to generate even more violent policies in order to continue to differentiate itself and not be completely subsumed as a mere adjunct of the Liberal party;
  4. it continues to enable the Government to abrogate its responsibility, under the terms of the UN Refugee Convention, for the transfer, settlement and care of the refugees on Manus and Nauru on the Australian mainland;
  5. finally, and most disturbing of all, this policy, even without being enacted, already unleashes its own destructive and potentially lethal effects, thereby working to intensify the violent effects of current policies of ‘letting die’ of refugees on Australia’s Pacific gulags – as Mat Tinkler, Director of Policy and Public Advocacy, underscored: ‘We have grave concerns that this kind of announcement will push people over the edge’ (ABC News ).

RAPBS condemns this proposed policy and unreservedly calls for the immediate transfer of all the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru to the Australian mainland.

RAPBS Call to Account 2016

Updated Charge Sheet 24/6/2016

List of charges

These charges are read by members of the Australian polity who call our government to account, under the terms of its international human rights obligations such as the Convention against Torture, the Refugee Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, for human rights abuses in the camps it funds on Nauru and Manus Island.

In order to highlight the structural connections of these places with other extra-legal or illegal places of confinement in the war on terror, we refer to these as black sites. These are sites that operate at arm’s length from the state, in territories where ultimate responsibility and sovereign authority is obfuscated or endlessly deferred, and where there is no legal or public scrutiny.

Black Sites are mostly located on formerly colonised and racialised territories. These sites are characterised by secrecy and lack of accountability. They are often run as commercial operations by private contractors who again operate between domestic and foreign places of confinement and between zones of peace and war. The name of the group, Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites highlights these links.

Click here to view our 2015 Call to Account

Media Release – Behrouz Boochani Resists

MEDIA RELEASE: 24th April 2016
Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites

PDF Media Release

BEHROUZ BOOCHANI RESISTS: ‘I have worked hard with film-makers, fellow journalists, organisations and lawyers but now I want to send out Manus voice by my body’

‘I left my country because I am a liberal writer and I will always fight for democratic values even with my body’, writes Behrouz Boochani, Kurdish-Iranian journalist and writer detained in Australia’s black site on Manus Island.

Mr Boochani, has chosen to resist the farcical conferring of a positive refugee status by PNG immigration upon him even as he has refused to give his claim for asylum to PNG. He has climbed a tree, using his body to send out a message that he will resist further moves to force him to comply with ‘this cruel policy’.

Mr Boochani has requested that RAPBS send out the following statement to the media:

Tomorrow morning [24th April] they will move me to Oscar. I want to resist. They must take me by force. They said ‘you only have 15 minutes. If you resist we will take you by PNG police by force.’

I received a positive refugee status determination on 18 April 2016 from the PNG ! immigration. I arrived in Australia 3 years ago and asked Australia for asylum under international law. The Labour government of Australia exiled me to their prison camp in Manus Island PNG by force. I have been imprisoned here for almost 3 years and have been under a lot of pressure to fill in the protection application in PNG but I have constantly denied to do so. I did not arrive in PNG and did never give the PNG government my case for asylum. I have never wanted to resettle in this country.

This is part of my fight. I have worked hard and tirelessly during the last 3 years to send out Manus voice. I wrote lots of articles and pieces in my real name and fake name. I have worked hard with film-makers, fellow journalists, organisations and lawyers but now I want to send out Manus voice by my body. I don’t have any other way.

I don’t want to lose my personality. I don’t want to be a nameless detainee. ‘By the 19 July law our legal status has been suspended and we become legally un-nameable beings. We are made into non-beings without dignity. Think of Hamid Khazaei, his body was used to violently send a message to the world’ (Boochani, unpublished article, Nauru and Manus Islands and the law: The State of Exception).

This is a fight for Western democratic values of freedom, equality, the right to safety, the right to asylum, the right to freedom of speech and movement, and mutual respect. I will resist not for myself but for humanity values. I left my country because I am a liberal writer and I will always fight for democratic values even with my body.

I fight to show people that Australia has tortured people in this hell prison for three years.

In his article ‘A Critical Silence’ published on RAPBS website, Boochani provides a forensic analysis of element[s] of control and domination’ used in the black site and identifies ‘the authorities fear [of] a public protest, even a peaceful one, being mounted’. We at RAPBS are concerned that the boost in security personnel, further overcrowd ing, lack of sanitation and the presence shown by PNG police and para-military, the separation of men who have become like family and the despair and degradation that 3 years of humiliating, degrading and inhuman punishment ‘tantamount to torture’, with no hope for safe resettlement has produced, sets the
conditions for a violent confrontation.

As we wrote in our commentary on the recent divisions of inmates into two camps, a sense of deep unease and even desperation are pervasive among the inmates.

We ask that concerned media treat Mr Boochani’s statement and action with the gravity it deserves.

Media Contact: Janet Galbraith 0418 399 646

Asylum Seeker Children as “Political Pawns”: Immigration Minister Threatens To Return Children to Unsafe Conditions on Nauru

Media Release: 20 January 2016
Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites

PDF Media Release

The Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, has threatened to send 72 children who have been resident in Australia back to immigration detention in Nauru. Conditions in the off shore camp have been condemned by a number of key organisations. Children in the black site have been exposed to self-harm, sexual assaults, unsanitary conditions, lack of appropriate medical care and inadequate educational services. An asylum seeker mother evidences the unlivable conditions of life in the camp: “Every day counting time! Ok today might be my turn to be transferred back to hell by the name of Nauru! In my nightmares, walking around the detention centre under 50 degrees centigrade hot weather on sharp hot stones, living in hot plastic tents like an oven without having any air conditioner, looking forward to seeing a cold bottle of water, or even having a good shower not for yourself even, just for little kids full of heat rash on their skins. Having sleep, if you can, in a mouldy situation full of bugs, cockroaches, mice and spiders. Above all no security and safety even inside the detention center.”

Another mother, known as ‘Anaa,’ whose child was born in Australia, speaks of the fear that this threatened move has instilled in her heart: “Why do we have to suffer like this? I only live for this child here. What do we have to pay for this painful life we live every day, not knowing what will happen to us and our children?”

Dr Helen Driscoll, Consultant Child Psychiatrist, underscores the manner in which the children’s welfare is trumped by political agendas: “I have been making numerous psychiatric assessments of children and families in onshore detention who have been on Nauru and in custody for 3 years. They are extremely traumatised as are their parents. Clinical imperatives and human rights are subjugated to political agendas. IHMS decisions are also subjugated to the veto of Immigration and political agendas. It is an utter disgrace, the impact of which will have life-long traumatic psychological sequelae.”

Brenna Thompson, an early childhood educator who is a regular visitor at MITA, outlines the trauma that asylum seeker children detained in Nauru experience: “Any childhood professional who meets children who have been detained in offshore processing centres quickly recognises the signs of long term, sustained and inescapable trauma. The children I have met and come to know show signs and behaviours that, if I saw in any other environment I would be professionally obligated to report under mandatory reporting laws. These children, however, fall under federal jurisdiction and are therefore unable to be protected by state based child protection authorities. They are pawns of our government with no one to protect them. The children I have met in MITA who have been detained on Nauru show classic signs of trauma and abuse, such as irrational behaviour, mood swings, depression, bed wetting, extreme and irrational fears, sleep disturbances, night terrors and high anxiety.”

Sue Saltmarsh, Associate Professor of Education Studies, calls into question the double standard of exposing asylum seeker children to risks and dangers that would incur criminal proceedings in the Australian context: “Educators and parents who fail to adequately protect children from harm or who knowingly expose them to danger are subject to investigation and criminal proceedings. How is it, then, that any responsible adult should consider, let alone threaten, to knowingly return already vulnerable asylum seeker children to conditions in Nauru where their safety – and that of their siblings and parents – is at risk, and where their protection cannot be guaranteed?”

In 2015 the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture says: [Australia] has violated the right of the asylum seekers, including children, to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.’ The conditions of children in immigration detention also violate a number of the key elements of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Australia has signed and ratified.

“We owe a duty of care to children detained in Australian run and funded detention facilities, both on and off shore. We owe them protection, freedom and safety.” Brenna Thompson

RAPBS calls on the Australian Government to put an immediate halt to any proposed plans to return the 72 children back to the unsafe conditions on Nauru.

RAPBS media contacts: Janet Galbraith 0418 399 646; Helen Driscoll 0403 364 486

RAPBS Call to Account 2015


In the lead up to Human Rights day RAPBS compiled a list of charges calling the Australian state to account for its failures to uphold international human rights conventions and treaties such as the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture and the Refugee Convention.

RAPBS, with support from RRAN and RAC Melbourne were joined by people from various walks of life to stage readings of the list of charges in Melbourne, Sydney and Fremantle.  The readings called to account the Austraian government for perpetrating  human rights violations against asylum seekers and refugees, both in detention centres and in the precarious conditions people are forced to endure under other unlivable terms, like the temporary protection visas.

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These readings will be combined into a short film for international circulation, produced by Steve Thomas.  We will upload this as soon as it is available.

List of charges

The introductory piece read before the list of charges is also attached.

Introductory piece

RAPBS – Human Rights Week – Call to Account

Sydney: 12 noon December 10 (Thursday) Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Perth: 12 noon December 13 (Sunday) Round House Fremantle
Melbourne: 6.30 pm December 10 (Thursday) City Square

RAPBS in collaboration with our friends from RRAN and RAC will stage a series of readings in Human Rights Week.

People from all walks of life will read from a list of charges calling the Australian state to account for its failures to uphold international human rights conventions and treaties such as the Rights of the Child, the Convention against Torture and the Refugee Convention.

Participants and contributors include Tess Allas, Iqbal Barkat, Tony Birch, Melissa Lucashenko, Michelle De Kretser, Amala Groom, John Highfield, Al Poulet, Baden Offord, Kim Scott, David Whish-Wilson, Arnold Zable, Uncle Jack Charles.

The readings will be combined into a short film for international circulation, produced by Steve Thomas.

We invite all members of the public to participate in the film.

Please wear black clothing on the day.

For more information:

Melbourne: Janet Galbraith (0418 399 646)
Perth : Suvendrini Perera (0409 747 200)
Sydney: Joseph Pugliese (0401 846 330)

Flyer for Nazanin

RAPBS has heard that Nazanin, the 23 year-old raped on Nauru, will be moved to the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre on Monday. Usually this is the preparation for removal.

Abyan, pregnant as a result of rape, was returned to Nauru last week. She remains in an utterly precarious situation.

Arezo, sexually assaulted while under medical care, was returned in June.

Arezo. Abyan. And many others. We cannot let Nazanin be next.

Download the Flyer. Share with you friends and colleagues.

Image by Farhad Bandash, Manus Detainee

Press Release 23 October 2015


Psychiatrist says:

’To Return Nazanin to Nauru is like putting band aids on victims of domestic violence’

MEDIA RELEASE: 23rd October 2015

RAPBS is concerned to hear that Nazanin is to be moved from the Brisbane hospital she has been in since August, to the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA). We understand this to be the first step in IHMS and DIBP’s plan to return Nazanin to the place of her assault, Nauru.

The news of Nazanin’s imminent move to BITA has come on top of yesterday’s raid of Save The Children offices and search of their personnel after after Wednesday’s ABC Lateline report detailing the plight of Nazanin and her family.

Trauma specialist and psychiatrist Dr Helen Driscoll says: ‘One of the profound imperatives in trauma care is to not send the victim back into the place from whence they have come without substantial change. To return Nazanin to Nauru is like putting band aids on victims of domestic violence, then taking them back under escort to the abusive house and keeping them there!’

Doctors at the RCH and other hospitals have taken a stand against returning children to detention.

As Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year, states in our Open Letter To PM Turnbull: ‘Those of us who care about violence against women, children and other vulnerable people at home need to care about what happens to these same people elsewhere who are under our care. The Australian government funds the offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island. The centres are, by their very design, unsafe and dangerous places.

These centres cannot be patched up. They must be shut down. The people forcibly held there are those who sought protection in this country. They deserve care, not punishment. Out of sight is not out of mind!’

RAPBS calls on doctors and health professionals to join with the doctors of RCH and extend their ban to encompass the return of all patients to the centres, especially those who have been raped, sexually assaulted or victimised within Australia’s detention system on-shore and off-shore.

RAPBS calls on the Minister for Immigration to attend to the care of Nazanin and her family and urges urging in the strongest possible terms that the Minister heed Melissa Parkes MP, and ‘consider reuniting Nazanin with her mother and brother through appropriate humanitarian resettlement in Australia’.

RAPBS also calls for independent assessment of victims of physical, psychological and sexual abuse because, as Dr Driscoll states, ‘there is imperative need for independent clinical assessment for advocacy because the doctors in the hospitals cannot attend to the aetiology of the patients condition’.

RAPBS media contacts: Dr Helen Driscoll 0403 364 486; Professor Suvendrini Perera 0409 747 200.

Press Release 22 October 2015



22 October 2015

RAPBS is very concerned to hear that the Nauru offices of Save the Children and Transfield were raided this morning following yesterday’s ABC Lateline report.

We call on the Minister for Immigration and the Oppositon to ensure the safety of Nazanin’s mother and brother who also spoke on the program and who remain incarcerated on Nauru.

In his correspondence with concerned MPs who raised the plight of Nazanin’s family with him, Minister Dutton stated that it was departmental policy for patients brought to Australia for treatment to be accompanied by members of their nuclear families. Despite being assured at the time of Nazanin’s departure that her mother and brother would follow, they still remain on Nauru. Why has the family not been airlifted to Australia in order to join their sister/daughter in Brisbane?

ABC reports that ‘Computers and other internet-connected devices were seized by local authorities this morning.’ Were any Australian police involved in the raid?

Is the seizing of these devices yet another instance of attempts by the Australian and/or Nauru governments to censor the flow of information from these detention black sites – precisely in light of the growing evidence of sexual assaults, mismanagement and breach of policy protocols?

How are the workers in the camps expected to conduct their frontline role if their communication devices have been siezed? Surely this will impact on the quality of services the workers can deliver to the detainees who are under their duty of care?

Media Contacts: 0409 747 200 Janet Galbraith: 0418 399 646 Dr Helen Driscoll:0403 364 486


RAPBS is very concerned to hear that the Nauru office of Save the Children was raided this morning following yesterday’s Lateline report. We call on the Minister for Immigration and the Opposition to ensure the safety of Nazanin’s mother and brother who also spoke on the program and who remain incarcerated on Nauru.

For their safety we request their immediate airlifting to Australia in accordance with DIBP’s stated policy of having immediate family members accompany patients airlifted to Australia.