Earlier today co-deputy leader of the Australian Greens and senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam spoke in the senate chamber about the plight of Eaten Fish.
Video of the statement: portion concerning Manus Island and Eaten Fish commences at 13:17 mark.
After a statement about climate change and the current heatwave and flooding in Australia the senator moved on to displaced people generally and Eaten Fish in particular:
“What I find most perverse is that the same people working hardest to prevent clean energy companies from getting a start in Australia are the same ones who are the most horrified at the idea of giving safe harbour to refugees.
It’s about the most brutal failure to put two and two together imaginable. Here’s one really obvious example. There are around 170 million people living in Bangladesh; say about 7 times the population of Australia. Most of these men and women and children, sisters, brothers, grandparents, grandchildren, live on alluvial floodplains on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Conservatively, 10% of the land area will be inundated if the sea level rises one meter. Not in a slow and gradual manner, but given effect by violent storm surges and hurricanes.
How many people do you think will realistically be on the move by mid-century?
Like many people I’m at risk of becoming numb to the statistics of suicides, murders, mental illness, sexual assault and rape on the island internment camps that are Australia’s national shame. It is essential that we don’t turn away from the horrors being inflicted in our name, because the way we treat desperate people forced to flee their homes will be the issue that defines whether the human family survives this century or not.
Last week the Government began forcibly deporting people from Manus Island.
The UN Refugee Agency has said that no deportations should take place, because there are concerns about how people’s refugee claims have been assessed. Asylum seekers on the island have provided dozens of examples of mistakes, inconsistencies and perverse decisions. Legal avenues for the asylum seekers have not been exhausted, with many having not yet been subject to judicial review.
The detention centre in Manus Island was declared illegal 10 months ago. The PNG Supreme Court ruled in April that the indefinite detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island was unconstitutional and but nothing has been done to close it down.
Today the Liberal and Labour parties washed their collective hands of responsibility, refusing to support a Greens motion opposing forced deportations.
I said I would avoid statistics, so let us learn a little more of one individual. Iran, the theocracy that the United States Government set in place when the CIA overthrew a democratically elected Government in 1953 has long refused to accept any person who is repatriated involuntarily. This means that these poor people face the prospect of indeterminate detentions or worse when they are forced to return.
One such person is the Iranian asylum seeker and cartoonist known by pen name Eaten Fish. He’s 25-year-old. His real name is Ali. He suffers severe mental illness. He has been on a hunger strike for 16 days today. He’s bleeding from his stomach and he is becoming more and more unwell. His ability to be lucid is deteriorating and he’s desperate.
Eaten Fish has received a deportation notice, but he wants people to know that he’s not on hunger strike for that reason. He’s on hunger strike because he’s been the victim of sexual assault, chronic sexual harassment and abuse in Australia’s immigration prison camp. He can’t bear the suffering anymore.
He’s petrified of being moved from his supported accommodation back into the general area, and petrified of being returned to Iran and executed.
His refugee determination status process was an absolute joke. During the determination he was so unwell that he was unable to present his case.
All of this has been documented. It’s taken Eaten Fish a year to talk about his experience but now he wants people to know what’s going on.
The Australian government has been petitioned many times both from within Australia and internationally asking that Eaten Fish be brought to Australia for medical treatment.
Cartoonists Rights Network International is one such group, and writes:
‘It is with profound alarm and sadness that [we] learn that our friend and colleague, cartoonist Mr. Eaten Fish, currently held in an Australian refugee rendition camp in Papua New Guinea has decided to undertake a hunger strike… He is a man who has given up hope, cannot struggle any longer, cannot face the future that is being forced on him, and he would rather die than submit to the indignities of further inhuman treatment.’
Today the Greens stand, once again, against this unacceptable treatment of asylum seekers by this government, and the ALP. We urge you to transfer this critically ill young man to Australia, or risk another death.
I also take this opportunity to also say that we will never forget the young men who have died in our care on this death camp.
Reza Barati – 24, Iranian, died from head injuries after bashing by security guards
Hamid Kehazaei – 24, Iranian, died from medical neglect after a treatable foot infection
Faysal Ishak-Ahmed – 27, Sudanese, fell ill and died on Christmas Eve 2016, after seeking medical
treatment 13 times in 2 months
On the death of Faysal, Manus detainee Abdul Aziz Adams said ‘This system is designed to kill us one by one’.
Friends, this system shames us one by one.”
A former graphic designer and illustrator, Sen. Ludlam is a long-term critic of the government’s policy concerning detention of immigrants in off-shore camps. We and all working to secure Eaten Fish’s release and humane treatment in Australia thank him and his colleagues for their interest and vocal support.