Refugees on Manus should be sent back to Australia


THE refugees Australia has sent to you should not be the responsibility of Papua New Guinea (PNG) nor your government. These people came to Australia seeking safety and protection from persecution, which they faced in their home countries.
As they fled, the countries they first escaped too did not allow them work permits, shelter, food or the most basic human rights, so they kept moving. They came to Australia and we have sent them to you to send a message to other unfortunate souls who also cannot find safety.
Most of these men that Australia sent to you have been recognised as refugees. Your Supreme Court has found that to detain them on Manus, or anywhere in your country is in direct conflict with your constitution.
The men on Manus Island tell us that the people of PNG have largely welcomed them. Yet problems have occurred, and the reputation of Manus Island and Papua New Guinea has been damaged across the world as a result.
Last week, the Refugee Council of Australia and more than 70 organisations including from churches, unions, civil society and legal bodies called for the men on Manus Island and those men, women on children on Nauru to be returned to Australia.
We think being resettled to the USA is a perverse deal, yet we have supported the opportunity for these men to get the opportunity to live freely, as every person deserves. The US deal though is on again and off again and the trauma this is causing these vulnerable men is significant.
As Australians we apologise for the great disservice Australia’s brutal policies towards people seeking asylum have done to the people of Papua New Guinea and to your reputation. We know these people are the responsibility of Australia.
Compassionate Australians are deeply concerned about the fate of these men, and the damage this ‘deal’ has done to the relationship we have with PNG, our trusted neighbour.
Australia has failed them and we have failed you in the manner
in which the Australian government has used these men and used
We urge you to treat all these men with compassion and ask that you send these men back to Australia so that they can receive the safety and protection they deserve.
Tim O’Connor
The Refugee Council of Australia