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14 December 2013

Detention on Manus Island

 The following is from an article written by a journalist connected to Amnesty. It tells about Manus Island where asylum seekers, hoping for asylum in Australia, are routinely sent. There is a definite link with the central theme of The Space in Between, but the outcome, unfortunately, is very different.
What we found inside was bleak, and far worse than we anticipated [1]. The entire system is designed to mentally break asylum seekers and force them to return from where they've fled. In one compound we found 112 asylum seekers crammed into a sweltering, windowless shed.
Asylum seekers are routinely humiliated from the moment they arrive. They're referred to by their boat numbers instead of their names. They're denied enough water, medical help, contact with their families. They lack basic necessities like clothing, soap and shelter from the extreme heat. Some told us they have contemplated suicide because of the harsh conditions.
Medical professionals told us that they are unable to treat serious illnesses, and that conditions are contributing to depression, anxiety and trauma. They were frustrated with the lack of mental health services and basic sanitation provided - and the complete lack of response from Australian authorities to their requests.
Most of the people we spoke to had fled war-torn countries, or situations of extreme discrimination in countries like Afghanistan, Darfur, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria. To see people so hopeless and broken was heart-breaking.
I will never forget hearing from an Iraqi man. When talking about his life on Manus Island, he said: "I have lived in war zones, with bombs and explosions. I have never experienced what I am experiencing here with the uncertainty we face. If we had died in the ocean that would have been better."
There are almost 2,000 people being detained on Manus Island and Nauru. The government spends over $1 billion a year to keep them locked up - yet only ONE asylum claim been processed since they opened.
Imagine enduring these conditions each day with no information about when you can begin your life again. Many of the men we spoke to pleaded for Amnesty's help. I won't stop campaigning until they can live in safety and dignity.
Thank you,
Graeme McGregor
Refugee Campaign Coordinator
Amnesty International Australia

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