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Manus crackdown: Oz government curtails workers’ rights

Manus detainee badly beatenPETER KRANZ

THE Australian government’s behaviour in relation to its Manus island “detention centre” continues to be appalling.

More details have emerged about the censorship of doctors, teachers, journalists, NGO employees, church workers and anyone else employed there or reporting on what is happening there.

These professionals can go to jail merely for reporting abuse, which one would assume to be the ethical, humane and right thing to do.

And there's another related problem - the Australian media is hardly raising a whisper about this assault on citizens' rights and freedoms.

Australia is a democracy and, since it achieved independence from Britain in 1901, its flag has flown high around the world on matters of decency and freedom, but in the case of asylum seekers it is acting like a fascist state.

Under sweeping new laws designed to gag whistleblowers, doctors, teachers and other professionals working in immigration detention facilities face up to two years in prison if they speak out against conditions in the centres or provide information to journalists.

The malevolent Border Force Act, passed quietly by the Australian parliament on 14 May with both major parties assenting, forbids "entrusted people" from recording or disclosing information about conditions in centres such as that on Manus Island.

Under the heading Secrecy and Disclosure Provisions, the Act says releasing information is only permitted by the secretary of the department responsible for detention centres.

"Under the proposed measures, the unauthorised disclosures of information, including personal information will be punishable by imprisonment for two years," the Act says.

The new law will come into force next month at the same time the Australian immigration and customs departments merge.

The president of the Australian Medical Association, Prof Brian Owler, said this was the first time doctors had been threatened with jail for revealing inadequate conditions for their patients in immigration centres.

Meanwhile the London Daily Mail reports that a refugee was imjured after Manus Island guards “beat him as he ate dinner in local restaurant after ignoring 6pm curfew.”

The Iranian man (pictured) was eating at a restaurant at 10pm when the security guards entered. They beat him up, and took him back to East Lorengau transit centre 

The refugee had his asylum claim processed and had lawfully left detention. However all refugees are directed to return to the transit centre before 6pm. 


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Peter Kranz

"There was once a nanny-goat who said,
In my cradle someone sang to me:
"A strong man is coming.
He will set you free!"

The ox looked at her askance.
Then turning to the pig
He said,
"That will be the butcher."

Bertolt Brecht

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

Great civilisations started in the Middle-East. The people at Manus detention center are running away from evil regimes. Let's not treat these people like this.

Remember, the Australian continent belonged to some other people. It was not inhabited by those in power now.

Phil Fitzpatrick

A good question indeed.

If someone from the Manus Detention Centre talks to a journalist in PNG (Australian or PNGuinean) and they broadcast or publish it where do the media in Australia stand if they pick it up and re-broadcast it? Presumably by then it's in the public domain.

Maybe the Australian media should begin paying attention to what's broadcast in PNG?

And then, of course, Abbott and his dumb mates will start putting pressure on Peter O'Neill.

If that happens the charge of fascism will be justified.

And Labor will be dragged further into the quagmire.

Peter Kranz

Good question, Daniel. Maybe this needs to be tested in a PNG court.

Jimmy Awagl

Australia is a democracy
democracy means freedom
but his freedom in your care
is now deprived and denied
for Australia is silently,
through legal means, fascist
fascist and racist

Daniel Doyle

Surely Australian law doesn't apply in PNG on the eve of its fortieth anniversary of independence ? ! ?

Peter Kranz

Australia was one of the founders and leading lights behind the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Australia was a founding member of the UN and played a prominent role in the negotiation of the UN Charter in 1945. Australia was also one of eight nations involved in drafting the Universal Declaration.

This was largely due to the influential leadership of Dr Herbert Vere Evatt, the head of Australia’s delegation to the UN. In 1948, Dr HV Evatt became President of the UN General Assembly. That same year he oversaw the adoption of the Universal Declaration.

Pity Australia seems have to been going downhill since those heady days.

Francis Nii

This is totally madness protecting its human rights abuses?

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