WelCom March 2019:
Manus Island detainees must be released. Mental illness among those incarcerated on the island are rife, says the bishops conference of Papua New Guinea.
The general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG, Giorgio Licini, wrote at the end of January to PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill saying PNG leaders should negotiate a deadline with Australia to release refugees imprisoned on Manus Island.
The island is part of Manus Province in northern Papua New Guinea.
Licini says ending almost six years of indefinite detention for about 600 male refugees should be done on medical and humanitarian grounds and has called for a dignified ending to Australia’s indefinite detention of the men.
‘Prolonging the refugees’ detention would compromise their chances of being resettled elsewhere,’ he said.
‘I am now humbly asking you to give a very close deadline to the authorities in Canberra for the removal of all refugees from our country on the basis of strongly compelling medical and humanitarian reasons.
‘Without this decision, the mentally impaired people will grow by the dozens in the next few weeks and months. Who is going to care for them? They risk outright rejection by any third country’, he wrote.
Licini also explained in his letter that uncertainty about the future had caused a breakdown in the refugees’ mental health, and depression and hopelessness had led to self-harm and suicide attempts becoming a daily occurrence.
He said during a recent two-day visit to the island, three refugees had attempted suicide.
Source: CathNewsNZ, RNZ
Asylum seeker wins top Australian Literary Award
A refugee stuck on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island has won Australia’s richest literary prize for a book he wrote in detention. Behrouz Boochani won the top prize at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards in January, after organisers made an exception to allow him to enter the awards despite not being an Australian resident or citizen.
Behrouz Boochani, whose debut novel – No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison – won both the $25,000 non-fiction prize at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and the $100,000 Victorian prize for literature, is not allowed into Australia.
After fleeing Iran and seeking refuge in Australia, the Kurdish-Iranian journalist was sent to Manus Island in 2013 by Australian authorities for offshore processing, where he remains.
Mr Boochani wrote his entire book on his mobile phone and sent it in bits over years to his translator Omid Tofighian via Whatsapp. He said he hopes the award win will bring more attention to the situation on the island.
Almost 1000 asylum seekers remain on Manus Island and Nauru.