Category Archives: Voices from the Black Sites

I stand with Behrouz

A few days ago The Guardian newspaper published links to a shocking cache of documents. They revealed, in detail that is all the more chilling for its use of colour-coded management speak of the most banal variety, the processes by which the administrators of Australia’s camps on Manus island planned to make the lives of inmates even more harsh and punitive. The aim was twofold: to make recognised refugees leave the camp and accept resettlement in Papua New Guinea, and to drive asylum seekers to give up their efforts to claim protection and force them to return to the unsafe conditions of the countries they fled.

Revealed in these plans is a new refinement of what Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites has described previously as the damage by design that Australia’s offshore policies are calculated to inflict on hapless detainees, people overwhelmingly recognised as refugees even under the flawed processes of assessment adopted by the responsible states. The official sanction of such practices, guaranteed to produce fear and trauma, are tantamount to torture and stand in violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture that Australia has ratified.

The Guardian article lists as co-author of the expose article Behrouz Boochani, journalist, film-maker, writer, and himself a detainee in the Manus camp. Although Mr Boochani’s name has become familiar to many of us through his tireless attempts to shine a light on what transpires on a daily basis in the black site that is Manus camp, none of us can be complacent that his high visibility and extraordinary abilities will guarantee his safety.

The Good Friday 2017 shooting at the Manus camp, which left unarmed refugees and their Australian managers terrified as PNG naval officers threatened to overrun the camp and fired directly into it, is a frightening reminder of the riot in which Reza Barati was bludgeoned to death in 2014. The Minister responsible for Borderforce, Peter Dutton, instead of immediately acting to defend those under threat of serious violence, inflamed the situation by insinuating that the detainees might be guilty of abusing local children. These dangerous insinuations were exposed as baseless by Mr Boochani through his fearless commitment to speaking truth to power.

RAPBS is calling on the hundreds of thousands of Australians who are appalled by our government’s policies, and who are inspired by the courageous work that Mr Boochani and fellow whistle blowers are undertaking on Manus and Nauru, to act now in support of Mr Boochani, who may face retaliation for his role in the latest exposé of damning documents from Manus camp.

Write to your local MP, circulate, share and tweet this call as widely as you can, and make it clear that you hold the Australian Prime Minister and his cabinet personally responsible for the lives it has forcibly placed on Manus and Nauru.

Please explicitly state your support for Mr Boochani, who has been recognised by PEN International, Reporters without Borders and other international and national bodies. Call for Mr Boochani to be afforded the protection and support he needs.

A year ago, when authorities attempted to remove Mr Boochani from Manus Camp, he climbed a tree to express his peaceful resistance. Today we are once again calling on people everywhere to Stand With Behrouz.

Add your name to this campaign below. Tweet your photograph! Stick it on a real wall near you! Make yourself heard!

# I Stand with Behrouz!

Suvendrini Perera and Joseph Pugliese
Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites

I Stand with Behrouz PDF

A rainbow

I wake each night
more tired of this repetition.
I find myself in the loneliness of the wall’s shadow,
in the darkness of lonely nights.
Released from the joy of sexuality
I sleep with my shadow
embracing all I do not have.
I kiss those made of the same material as me –
they are a rainbow –
and immediately I turn into a flood in your arms.
I am full of the wounds that only your hands can cure.
I am set free each time I pat your hair.
You smell like all of my life.
My loneliness does not doom me to failure.
I am full of the joy of sexuality.
The darkness of these nights
will turn into a rainbow.

M. Manus Island

A Crow’s Scream

His heart feels sad and heavy.
He gazes far away.
Exhausted and lonely
he is sitting on a rock in the camp –
his feet sore and cut.
He was forced to flee his country.
Now he’s forced to stay in a camp –
same as a scarecrow
on an island very far away
that few have ever thought about.
He waits for a dandelion and a bird
from you to him.
His heart can make it happen
But the bird of politics
with its sharp beak
speaks for government and Morrison
and tears at his flesh, his mind and his heart,
steals his hope.
He never had a dream!
He’s not Damavand Young*
He is a scarecrow.
May be one day
a bird will take his spirt
and set it free.

– A. Nik, 2015

* Damavand Young is a big mountain in Iran; a mountain that is very strong, that nothing can shake.