Editorial: Win over Nauru kids as Liberals implode—build the movement for change

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/11/2018 - 2:17pm in



The refugee movement is on the offensive and Scott Morrison is on the way out.

The Coalition has been forced to promise that all refugee children will be off Nauru by the end of the year.

This is an incredible victory. Morrison was the architect of the Abbott government’s Operation Sovereign Borders and has championed anti-refugee cruelty. Now the campaign has forced him into retreat.

This win came as a result of enormous pressure from a mass public campaign that saw demonstrations, hundreds of thousands sign petitions and countless celebrities from Jimmy Barnes to the Wiggles all declare their support.

The Liberals are now pathetically weak. A historic 18.9 per cent swing at the Wentworth by-election has delivered victory to independent Kerryn Phelps and pushed the Coalition into minority government. The Liberals had held Wentworth since the party’s inception in 1945.

Morrison can’t seem to put a foot right. Like Turnbull, he is committed to hard right policies that are deeply unpopular—over climate change, homophobic discrimination and his backing for the big end of town.

If there was ever a time for Shorten and Labor to go for the jugular it is now. After refusing to act for weeks, the Liberals finally capitulated over children on Nauru when it was clear they ran the risk of losing a vote on the issue in parliament. Shorten could still throw the Liberals into further disarray by supporting independent Andrew Wilkie’s Bill to bring all the kids from Nauru and separated families here immediately. But so far the ALP have been too hamstrung by their own commitment to refugee bashing to seize the opportunity.

This is all the more reason to continue the mobilisations to get kids off Nauru now, and everyone else off Nauru and Manus too. The fight to free the refugees must continue all the way up to the election (likely in May) and beyond.

In Victoria the Andrews government’s commanding 54-46 lead in the polls is another sign that the Liberals are on the nose. They are set for a bruising defeat at the Victorian election this month.

Now that a Labor election victory federally is almost a certainty too, there is a burning question about what they are going to deliver. The tens of thousands that came out for weekday union protests to Change the Rules on 23 October showed there is a real mood for changes to the rigged IR laws.

But at the largest rally in Melbourne, the message was almost entirely simply to vote Labor.

Labor’s changes

Labor is promising real changes, through reversing cuts to penalty rates, scrapping the ABCC, restricting the use of labour hire and removing bosses’ ability to terminate enterprise agreements.

But it has refused to accept union bargaining across an industry, as the ACTU advocates, rather than simply at a company level. In late October Labor’s workplace spokesperson Brendan O’Connor said Labor was only open to industry bargaining for low paid workers like cleaners and early childhood educators.

He also hosed down any idea of removing restrictions on strike action, saying, “we don’t want to have a system that just ensures industrial chaos.”

These limited changes aren’t enough. As we go to print, Boom crane workers in NSW have been on indefinite strike for four weeks as part of their enterprise bargaining. They haven’t had a proper pay rise in almost five years. Actions such as solidarity strikes on construction sites where Boom Cranes are run by scabs would still be illegal under the limited changes proposed by the ALP. Workers need the unrestricted right to strike.

As the Liberals continue to disintegrate, they will ramp up their racism and bigotry. Scott Morrison initially supported schools having the power to expel LGBTI students. But he was forced to backtrack within days. Now the momentum is growing to change federal laws to prevent religious schools expelling LGBTI teachers as well. Labor has said it supports these changes.

Rallies on the anniversary of the Yes vote for marriage equality on 15 November can help keep up the pressure.

We can’t sit back and wait for Labor; whether it’s around refugees, racism, workers’ rights or fighting homophobia. When Kevin Rudd came to power he initially dismantled offshore processing, but then shamefully revived it, creating the “PNG Solution” and the horror on Manus. The Your Rights at Work campaign is what threw out the Liberals in 2007, yet Rudd gave us WorkChoices lite and kept the ABCC in all but name.

Shorten’s back flip to support the pro-business TPP trade deal shows we can’t rely on him either. We need to drive out the Liberals by building movements that will also take the fight to the bosses and a Labor government to win real change.

The post Editorial: Win over Nauru kids as Liberals implode—build the movement for change appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Kids off victory: Now get everyone off Nauru and Manus

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/11/2018 - 2:07pm in


refugees, refugees

There are now less than 20 children left on Nauru. Only six months ago, it took desperately fought legal battles in the Federal Court to get orders forcing the government to bring life-threateningly sick children off Nauru to Australia.

But over September and October, momentum grew along with the World Vision campaign to get #KidsOffNauru by Universal Children’s Day, 20 November. In mid-October, almost 6000 doctors signed a letter to the government calling for them to get children and their families off Nauru.

Three Liberal MPs indicated that they had delivered an ultimatum to Scott Morrison to get the children off.

When Kerryn Phelps won the Wentworth by-election, Morrison was desperate to avoid the possibility of the now-minority government losing a vote on the floor of Parliament.

On 27 October, thousands attended rallies in Sydney and Melbourne calling for “Kids Off, Everyone Off.” Opinion polls showed 80 per cent in favour of getting kids and their families off Nauru.

Five days later, Scott Morrison announced that all children and their families would be brought to Australia by the end of the year.

This is a big win for the campaign against a brutal government implementing a brutal policy.

But there are still five separated fathers on Nauru along with hundreds of other couples, and single women and men—and hundreds more on Manus.

With the families off, Morrison and other Ministers have taken a hard line over shifting anyone else as the government intends to hold them hostage to their election campaign.

Tragically, but true to form, Labor has again shown itself to be more concerned to support offshore detention than to put the boot into Morrison. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has submitted a bill to get families off and reunite separated fathers. With the support of Phelps and dissident Liberals in the lower house, Morrison could be defeated in parliament. But Labor is refusing to support it.

Rather than push to defeat Morrison, Labor offered to make concessions to support a modified lifetime ban bill as long as it only applied to those resettled in New Zealand. But the government is now as opposed as it ever was to doing any deal over New Zealand.

The government is clearly on the back foot over its refugee policy. The whole movement has been energised by this win against the odds.

The task now is to maintain the momentum and turn this blow against offshore detention into a sustained movement that will finish it off.

Back the teachers’ stand

That is why the teachers’ walk-out actions on 20 November in Melbourne and Brisbane are so significant.

In Melbourne, rank-and-file teachers have won unanimous support from the AEU Victorian Branch Council for a walk-out from 2.30pm, to attend a rally at the State Library at 3pm. In Queensland, teachers backed by the QTU will walk out to attend a rally at 4pm in King George Square. This is a major development for the campaign, and can help galvanise the unions to take their support to a new level.

In Victoria, the teachers are urging other unions to bring contingents to their rally. RAC in Sydney has called a solidarity rally and is urging union members to show their support.

Despite the Victorian Labor government declaring its support for the campaign to let the medical transferees from Manus and Nauru stay in Australia, the Department of Education has issued instructions to principals no to allow leave for the teachers’ walk-off. The need for the right to strike links the unions’ Change the Rules Campaign with the campaign to Change the Rules for refugees.

Union support has been a crucial part of the refugee campaign since the beginning. There have been important union actions before, including at Lady Cilento hospital in 2016, where the Queensland Labor Council backed medical staff and coordinated pickets of the hospital defending baby Asha from being sent to Nauru.

Teachers at Yeronga State High School also took action in support of an Iranian asylum seeker from their school, Mojgan Shamsalipoor, helping win her release from detention in 2016.

But the teachers’ 20 November walk-out action in two states is a breakthrough in union action in support of refuges. It can also help send a message from the union movement to the Labor Party conference in December, that Labor’s support for offshore detention has to end.

By Ian Rintoul

The post Kids off victory: Now get everyone off Nauru and Manus appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Lang leve de jarigen!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 04/11/2018 - 6:16am in



It’s Chris’s 60th birthday today – Happy Birthday, Chris!

Since this blog owes a lot to Chris (that is an understatement…), I want to let you know that on FB, Chris has launched a fundraiser for Bristol Refugee Rights, an organisator supporting refugees in Bristol of which Chris is the Chair of the trustees. If you’re on FB I am sure you can find your way there to the place to donate; otherwise, you can use this link.

Chris shares his birthday with my sister (Gelukkige verjaardag, zusje!) and with my former PhD-supervisor Amartya Sen, who celebrates his 85th birthday today (Happy birthday, Amartya!).

Since I was writing to them today, it occurred to me that the Dutch language has a word that, according to my knowledge of English and the online dictionary that I consulted, doesn’t have an equivalent in English: de jarige – the person who has their birthday. Either I am wrong, and then you sharp people will surely teach me a new word, or else I may have found one of the very few words in Dutch that doesn’t have an English equivalent (most of the time, it’s the other way around).

Lang leve de jarigen!

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 4:48am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

October 18, 2018 Leandros Fischer on German politics, with an emphasis on refugees (Jacobin page here) • Samuel Moyn, author of this article, on why the Supreme Court sucks and what can be done about it

Nauru in meltdown—step up the fight to free them

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 14/10/2018 - 7:58pm in


refugees, refugees

Australia’s detention regime on Nauru is spiralling out of control. The mental health crisis is accelerating among all age groups. And Nauruan elites and Australian officials are locked into a war of attrition against refugees.

Refugee service providers such as IHMS are increasingly unable to cope, with their clinic inside the RPC 1 compound breaching capacity on multiple occasions.

Following the failure to provide adequate care, a stream of Federal Court orders have forced the Australian government to transport dozens of refugees at imminent risk to Australia. Air ambulances are being used almost weekly to take desperately ill refugees for medical help in Australia.

Pouring fuel on the fire is a Nauruan elite addicted to detention. Officials are panicking that the crisis may threaten the feasibility of Australia’s detention regime, and the tens of millions of dollars of Australian government money that pour into their pockets every year.

Nauru government officials are pulling out all stops to block refugee transfers off Nauru. They have stopped air ambulances landing, and denied exit permits to those seeking to leave the island.

They are increasingly hostile to the medical services that have been referring refugees to proper medical treatment. They have prevented IHMS taking patients into the clinic in the RPC 1 compound. Refugees have been ordered out of the Nauru hospital by Nauruan police. The panicked elite have even ordered Médecins Sans Frontières off the island, which has offered psychological and psychiatric help since 2017.

A new Nauru government order threatens any refugee who attempts suicide with arrest. In the last week of September, an Iranian refugee woman was handcuffed, arrested and taken to the police station after informing IHMS workers she was having suicidal thoughts.

A twisted development has seen Nauru using child protection orders to tear legal custody of refugee children from parents in order to prevent transfers, and to intimidate other refugees.

The Australian government—which has spent $320,000 in the last financial year fighting court battles against medical transfers of refugees—is hardly worried about Nauru’s campaign to prevent removals.

But an escalating war of attrition can only deepen the crisis for the Australian government—and for the refugees it continues to hold in torture camps.

Reports of Australia’s bloody fingerprints on Nauru’s actions continue to roll in—from revelations of Australian government endorsement of Nauru’s media bans, to reports to the Federal Court about ABF’s joint decision-making with Nauru’s Overseas Medical Referral committee. Even Justice Debra Mortimer has ruled in the Federal Court that Australia cannot buck responsibility, having, “created this situation by establishing an arrangement of this kind for regional processing”.

As long as Australian detention dollars roll into the island, Nauru’s elite will continue to keep refugees trapped. The Australian government has guaranteed them $31.5 million per year for operating refugee processing, as well as an additional $26.1 million in Australian aid last year, which together represents 43 per cent of Nauru’s USD$115 million GDP.

Close the camps

The crisis on Nauru has outraged new layers of people, and highlighted the necessity of action. Legal orders can only get refugees to treatment in Australia in the most extreme cases. For most of those on Nauru, there is no legal solution.

The World Vision campaign to get all kids off Nauru by 20 November is garnering support, with over 250 organisations signing on, a poster ad campaign, and academics coordinating a day of action on 17 October. Pressure is mounting on the Labor Left to act in the lead up to Labor’s national conference in December.

A poll in Wentworth found almost two-thirds in favour of bringing refugee children from Nauru to Australia.

The urgent task for refugee activists is to draw new layers into the protests in late October.

More than ever, we need to build the movement to get everyone off and end offshore detention.

By Daniel Cotton

The post Nauru in meltdown—step up the fight to free them appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Protests against UKIP Racism at their Party Conference

A few days ago, on the 21st and 22nd September, 2018, UKIP held their annual party conference at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre. The event was billed as the party’s 25th birthday celebration.

The Kippers’ were expected to launch their new manifesto at the conference, copies of which were to be given out to everyone attending. The party announced that they would have “brand new policies on the economy, housing, taxation, policing, the foreign aid budget and many other important areas, all designed with the key principle of putting our people first”.

Hope Not Hate have pointed out that Batten himself is a long-time anti-Muslim activist, and since he became the party’s new fuehrer in February has taken it even further to the right. The anti-racist, anti-religious extremism organization said that the manifestos would indicate whether Batten was putting his islamophobic rhetoric into policies.

The conference was also going to include three other extreme right-wing personalities. These were Paul Joseph Watson, Carl Benjamin, alias ‘Sargon of Akkad’, and Mark Meechan, alias Count Dankula. Watson used to be the British best mate of Alex Jones, the notorious conspiracy theorist, on his channel, InfoWars. He seems to have gone his own way and is now putting out his videos on YouTube. According to Hope Not Hate, in 2013 Watson declared that the 7/7 bombings were a false flag event, and that Media Matters also reported Watson’s extreme views on race. He claims that liberals are anti-science, because they don’t accept that people from Africa and the Middle East have lower IQs and are more aggressive. Benjamin, or ‘Sargon’, is a Sceptic who has decided that his mighty intelligence has allowed him to perceive how false feminism is, and posts videos on the internet attacking it. Which suits UKIP, some of whose members have extremely misogynist and reactionary views about women. As for Count Dankula, he’s the idiot that got tried and convicted of anti-Semitism ’cause he taught his girlfriend’s do to do the Nazi salute.

The conference was also due to vote on whether to accept Tommy Robinson, the former founder and leader of the EDL, as a member. Robinson had been banned under the party’s rules forbidding former members of the BNP and EDL from joining the party. Despite Batten’s support, the vote was cancelled by Tony McIntyre under a legal technicality. But Robinson’s supporters were still expected to turn up at the conference to make their views known.


There were mass protests against the party and its racism outside the conference. Yesterday, RT UK put up this video of the demonstration on YouTube. The video show protestors chanting ‘We are here to say racist UKIP go away’. They hold placards denouncing UKIP’s racism and also saying ‘Refugees’ welcome. One elderly lady tears up one of the placards, saying ‘That’s what I think of them.’ Presumably she’s an irate Kipper, not a member of the protesters.

The video shows one man talking to the camera, who states that

UKIP is becoming increasingly irrelevant in British politics. I think that’s why they’re clutching at straws, trying to court the Far-Right to try and rebuild their ranks because they are really on the margins of politics with very few supporters.

Another man say that

Since the Brexit referendum, where they were very important and very influential, they have declined and have internal squabbles and a much more smaller organization, and they’ve been associating themselves with Far-Right demonstrations against Muslims.

A third man gives his opinion on the Kippers, saying

Gerard Batten has taken UKIP to the extremes of the Far-Right, the fact that he wants Tommy Robinson to be in his organization speaks volumes.

It’s significant that Tommy Robinson is still a controversial figure for the Kippers, despite the very public islamophobia and racism of some of their members. But Robinson has been welcomed in Israel, and the Blairite MPs and Marie van der Zyle, below, of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, were more than happy to attend the fake protest against anti-Semitism organized by the North West Friends of Israel. Who are firm friends of Tommy Robinson and the EDL.

Yes, it is childish, but I’m still not sick of this joke yet.

This shows very clearly just how racist and islamophobic the Blairites and the Board are, when even UKIP is more liberal and anti-racist.

Mental health crisis engulfs Nauru

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/09/2018 - 12:36pm in


refugees, refugees

Nauru is in meltdown with an epidemic of mental illness and medical problems among children. Yet Peter Dutton has revealed his hypocrisy in granting visas to two au pairs, while forcing critically ill children to languish on Nauru without medical help.

Onshore, the suicide of 22-year-old Sarwan Aljhelie in Yongah Hill detention centre in Western Australia prompted a fire and riot there, from those outraged at the government’s abject failure of duty of care. Meanwhile, a Melbourne protest has demanded an end to the deportation of Tamil asylum seekers and Biloela residents marched on Peter Dutton’s Brisbane office to demand Priya, Nades and their children be allowed to stay.

There has been a shocking rise in self-harm in children on Nauru. One 12-year-old doused herself in petrol, and a 10-year-old attempted to swallow metal wire. A rare condition called “traumatic withdrawal syndrome” or “resignation syndrome” has seen a number of children starving themselves nearly to death. They have been withdrawing from life, some entering a catatonic state in which they stop eating, talking, responding to pain or interacting with people at all.

Legal action in the Federal Court has managed to get over 30 children, sometimes with their families (as well as a small number of single adults) off Nauru and to medical care Australia in the last few months. Doctors have issued recommendations for around half of the 100 or so children left on Nauru to be moved off the island.

Yet Border Force continues to stall on moving them. By mid-September, doctors had issued half a dozen warnings that a 12-year-old refugee who had made numerous suicide attempts was at grave risk, yet Border Force has kept her on Nauru.

Conditions on the island are spiralling down, with every single child on Nauru suffering some form of mental distress.

Nauruan authorities worked hard to make sure human rights abuses were covered up during the Pacific Islands Forum in early September. Tents that had housed refugees for five years were dismantled, ABC journalists were banned, while Canstruct and HOST staff were locked down in the RPC1 administration compound to prevent contact with any media. The most senior IHMS doctor on the island also had his visa revoked and was deported before the Forum began.

One New Zealand journalist was detained for hours after attempting to speak to refugees. But the truth continues to leak out. Healthcare workers spoke out on ABC’s 7.30 about children in crisis and women denied abortion rights. Even Former Australian Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg has joined those condemning the conditions on Nauru.

No resolution

More children and families are set to get court orders to come to Australia, as the government’s refusal to bring the refugees to Australia has left the government with no way out of the crisis it has created.

Every court order deepens the crisis for the government and renders offshore processing more unsustainable.

The failure of third country resettlement is clear. With Trump halving the refugee intake this year, and implementing racist travel bans, progress on the US resettlement deal is glacial. And nearly half of the refugees on Nauru are banned from the US due to their nationality. This failure, particularly the rejections of Iranians, has worsened the despair on Nauru, with refugees feeling this glimmer of hope has been crushed.

Human rights groups are backing World Vision’s #KidsOffNauru campaign, demanding all children be removed from the island by 20 November. A recent poll found that 67 per cent believe the Australian government should do so.

The Coalition government is unravelling. But Bill Shorten and Labor still refuse to evacuate Nauru and Manus Island by bringing the refugees and asylum seekers to Australia. The urgency is growing for action in workplaces, universities, and on the streets. The outrage about offshore detention needs to be channelled into a mass movement that is powerful enough to demand everyone be removed from Australia’s gulags and brought to safety in Australia.

By Daniel Cotton

The post Mental health crisis engulfs Nauru appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Another Australian prime minister deposed by internal party coup

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 28/08/2018 - 5:26am in

Sit-in prayer vigil at Scott Morrison's office 2014Love Makes a Way

Sit-in prayer vigil at Scott Morrison's office 2014 – Image courtesy Love Makes a Way Flickr account (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been deposed in a bitter week of political infighting in Australia. His replacement, Scott Morrison, is the country's sixth PM since John Howard’s defeat in the 2007 general election. It was the fourth consecutive time that a prime minister has been toppled in an internal party revolt.

The dramatic events were brought about by the government’s inability to get support from backbenchers for its proposed National Energy Guarantee (NEG), the aims of which were to achieve reliable energy, lower power prices and a 26 to 28 per cent reduction on Australia's 2005 levels of carbon emissions by the year 2030. In fact, some Liberal parliamentarians wanted to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

In response, then prime minister Turnbull called a surprise secret ballot for the leadership of the government on Wednesday August 22, 2018, which he won by 48 votes to 35. The unsuccessful challenger was Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who announced his resignation from the Cabinet — and his intention to pursue another tilt at the top job.

Chaos erupted: government ministers offered their resignations and key political figures switched sides. Citing his support of same sex marriage, one of Turnbull's ministers, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, resigned from the ministry and accused him of ignoring the party’s conservative base, but not all of her Liberal colleagues agreed.

In an unprecedented move, Turnbull responded by demanding the signatures of a majority [43 members] of his Liberal party room before he would call a special meeting. The party room comprises all Liberal Party members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Turnbull also referred Dutton’s constitutional eligibility as a member of parliament to the Solicitor-General for his opinion, a sideshow that proved inconclusive:

Following the PM’s declaration that he would not be a candidate if the meeting passed a spill motion, Scott Morrison, the party's treasurer, and Julie Bishop, who served as both foreign minister and deputy Liberal leader, declared that they would be candidates if that happened. Both were Turnbull supporters.

Despite his being regarded as a divisive politician with little popularity outside his crucial home State of Queensland, mainstream media predicted a Dutton victory. As the minister responsible for immigration, he angered many Australians who saw his treatment of refugees and asylum seekers as harsh and heartless. In particular, the plight of offshore detainees on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island has been very controversial. One detainee, Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani, tweeted several times during the week about how he saw the minister’s role:

Dutton was the spearhead of the conservative right of his party, many of whom were against the NEG. Instead, they support coal-fired power and oppose climate action and emissions targets. Dutton has been attacked as a puppet of former PM Tony Abbott, whom Turnbull replaced as PM in a party room vote in 2015. Theirs is a long-standing rivalry: in another internal coup back in 2009, Abbott deposed Turnbull as opposition leader over a proposed emissions trading scheme.

Political scientist Dr. Chris Pepin-Neff casts Abbott as the villain:

Actor Rhys Muldoon, meanwhile, articulated how many voters were feeling:

It wasn't just prominent journalists and political commentators who interpreted the Dutton challenge as revenge by Abbott supporters — other Liberal parliamentarians held similar views about the former PM and his party allies.

With Dutton’s defeat by one of Turnbull's own supporters, it seems that the besieged PM outmanoeuvred his opponents and had the last laugh. In 2015 the Abbott camp felt betrayed, believing that Scott Morrison had not backed him wholeheartedly, despite being a Christian conservative.

There was a further twist: when Julie Bishop did not stand for deputy leader, her replacement was Josh Frydenberg, the minister responsible for the aborted National Energy Scheme.

Some Twitter users mocked both Turnbull and Dutton. Earlier this year, both men had accused Victoria's state government of not addressing alleged gang violence by African youths in the state's capital, Melbourne, with Dutton even suggesting that people were scared to go out to restaurants:

It was not lost on asylum seeker supporters, however, that Scott Morrison was the architect of Tony Abbott’s stop the boats policy:

Despite the change in leadership, it just seems to many Australians that they will simply be getting more of the same. New Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi tweeted:

Environmentalist Sam Regester from the activist group GetUp was much harsher:

Kyle Bolto summed up the overwhelming reaction of Australians in this tweet:

Voters agree on one thing: prime ministers should be allowed to govern for their three-year term and be removed by the electorate rather than their parliamentary colleagues:

It's an old cliché that a week in politics is a long time — but considering that a federal election does not have to be held until the middle of 2019, it may well seem an eternity until the voters get to decide who leads them.

You can follow the continuing fallout on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #libspill, or the new PM's nickname, #ScoMo.

Syriza 2018: a Blast from the Past

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/08/2018 - 5:18am in

image/jpeg iconsyriza.jpg

A brief reminder. In January 2015 Paul Mason proclaimed on his Twitter account: "come to Athens – the revolution is happening". It is 2018 now, and three years later it is Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, who is ecstatic: "You did it! Congratulations to Greece and its people on ending the programme of financial assistance." What happened?

read more

Hamid was killed by Australia: Coroner damns offshore detention

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/08/2018 - 3:16pm in



It has taken four years, but the Coronial findings on the death of Hamid Khazaei have delivered a scathing indictment of offshore detention.

No one was held liable for Hamid’s death. But the inquiry reveals a truly appalling list of medical mistakes (consistently labelling Hamid’s medical care on Manus as “inadequate”) misjudgements, incompetence, and worst of all bureaucratic delays that prevented Hamid getting the treatment that could have saved his life.

Hamid was first treated at the Manus IHMS clinic on the afternoon of 23 August 2014. Doctors’ recommendations to get him off Manus were first made on 24 August: “This client has exhausted all antibiotic treatment that is available on Manus Island. This client is already displaying symptoms of deterioration, despite treatment with available antibiotics”. Yet he wasn’t even transferred to Port Moresby until 26 August.

And about Port Moresby, the Coroner writes, “It is clear on the evidence that the clinicians working at the PIH [Pacific International Hospital] on 26 August 2014 when Mr Khazaei arrived did not have the necessary clinical skills to deal with Mr Khazaie.” When he was finally transferred to Brisbane on 27 August, he was already brain dead.

It is sickening to read about the delays and buck-passing between bureaucrats and medical companies that killed Hamid.

Doctor Dennett was the doctor in Queensland in the International SOS office contacted by the Manus doctors requesting Hamid’s transfer to Australia. He told the inquiry, “we knew that if we—if we recommend transferring to Australia, it would not be approved.”

The expert doctor assisting the coroner said, “I’m a doctor. I’m not a politician or a bureaucrat, and I must admit I don’t understand why you had to get permission to transfer a patient for clinical reasons.”

There are many recommendations about the standard of medical care that should be available in offshore detention centres—like having clinics accredited by recognised Australian medical associations to Australian standards.

But one of the stronger recommendations, and one that could have an immediate effect, is that Border Force bureaucrats get out of medical decisions that affect people’s lives. As the coroner put it, “clinical considerations should prevail over all other factors when a recommendation for urgent medical movement is made.”

Even since the coronial finding, Border Force is routinely vetoing doctors’ recommendations for transfers off Manus and Nauru. Almost every week now, the Federal Court is overriding Border Force to order the government to bring families from Nauru to Australia because of the physical and mental damage that has been inflicted on them offshore.

Death sentence

The responsibility for Hamid’s death lies with the Australian government. He was handed a death sentence when he was forcibly transferred to Manus Island.

The coroner put it succinctly, that it would, “be possible to prevent similar deaths by relocating asylum seekers to other places, such as Australia or New Zealand, where better health care would be provided.”

The government has said it will review the coroner’s finding—but that is code for ignoring it. As far as the government is concerned, offshore detention is playing the role planned for it. And Labor, which restarted this version of the Pacific Solution on 19 July 2013, has been deafeningly silent about the offshore deaths.

For months now, Labor has declared that when it takes office, it will get all asylum seekers and refugees off Nauru and Manus. As pressure mounted with rallies marking the five year anniversary of offshore detention, Bill Shorten went so far as to name Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Canada and New Zealand as target resettlement countries. But this only exposes how vacuous Labor’s plan really is.

New Zealand has said that it will take 150 refugees a year. But there is no reason to think that the other countries named will agree to cooperate with Australia’s offshore prison regime. South Korea has taken a grand total of 79 people between 2015 and 2017, and they were recognised UNHCR refugees.

The movement’s demand to “Bring Them Here” will need to grow even louder over the coming months.

As this article was being written, the inquest into the death of Fazel Chegeni is just winding up. Suppression orders have so far prevented some of the stark revelations of Fazel’s mistreatment in onshore detention being publicly revealed. (Some dispatches from the inquest can be read at But Fazel was just as surely killed by mandatory detention.

By Ian Rintoul

The post Hamid was killed by Australia: Coroner damns offshore detention appeared first on Solidarity Online.