Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Former Sri Lankan Army Commander running Manus Island Detention Centre

Media release on the site of Greens party, Lee Rhiannon:




"BREAKING NEWS: It's been revealed that a former Sri Lankan Army commander is running the Manus Island Detention Centre.

People seeking asylum should not be be locked up in secret, offshore facilities run by former soldiers of the country they are fleeing from.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-24/former-sri-lanka-military-officer-acting-manager-of-manus/5280412

Full credit to journalist Asher Wolf (https://twitter.com/Asher_Wolf) for researching and breaking the story.
 — with Elizabeth Cooper-southam."







Posted by Ruth Skilbeck 26.2.2014

Five Sydney Biennale Artists Withdraw in Protest at Refugee Detention Industry Funding



Ruth Skilbeck 26.2.2014

Five prominent international and Australian artists have announced they have withdrawn from the Biennale of Sydney: Libia Castro, Olafur Olafsson, Charlie Sofo, Gabrielle de Vietri and Ahmet Ogut. 


Their statement released yesterday on the Sydney Biennale artists blog set up to discuss and cover the events surrounding the boycott and protests, states, in part:



“We have revoked our works, cancelled our public events and relinquished our artists’ fees. While we have sought ways to address our strong opposition to Australia’s mandatory detention policy as participants of the Biennale, we have decided that withdrawal is our most constructive choice. We do not accept the platform that Transfield provides via the Biennale for critique. We see our participation in the Biennale as an active link in a chain of associations that leads to the abuse of human rights. For us, this is undeniable and indefensible.



Our withdrawal is one action in a multiplicity of others, already enacted and soon to be carried out in and around the Biennale. We do not propose to know the exact ethical, strategic or effective action to end mandatory detention, but we act on conscience and we act with hope.



We have chosen to redirect our energies into multiple forms of action: discussions, workshops, publications, exhibitions and works that will continue to fuel this debate in the public sphere. In this, we stand with our local and international communities that are calling for the closure of Australia’s offshore detention facilities.”


Read the full statement of the Biennale artists who have withdrawn to protest against the Australian government detention camps policy and revelations of the increased Biennale sponsorship funding through foundational sponsor Transfield, a construction multinational which has taken over management of the detention camps:

Statement of Withdrawal from 19th Biennale of Sydney

STATEMENT OF WITHDRAWAL
26 February 2014

We are five of the 41 artists - Libia Castro, Ólafur Ólafsson, Charlie Sofo, Gabrielle de Vietri and Ahmet Öğüt - who signed a letter to the Board of the Biennale of Sydney in relation to their founding sponsor, Transfield.

We make this statement in light of Transfield’s expanding management of Manus Island and Nauru immigration detention centres. We act in the wake of the death of Reza Berati from inside Manus Island detention centre on February 17. We are in urgent political circumstances with a government that is stepping up their warfare on the world’s most vulnerable people daily.

We have received indications from the Board of the Biennale and Transfield that there will be no movement on their involvement in this issue. In our letter to the Board we asked for action and engagement, but we are told that the issue is too complex, and that the financial agreements are too important to re-negotiate.

And so we make this statement from a critical juncture of political urgency and artistic autonomy.

This is a statement of our withdrawal from the 19th Biennale of Sydney.

We have revoked our works, cancelled our public events and relinquished our artists’ fees. While we have sought ways to address our strong opposition to Australia’s mandatory detention policy as participants of the Biennale, we have decided that withdrawal is our most constructive choice. We do not accept the platform that Transfield provides via the Biennale for critique. We see our participation in the Biennale as an active link in a chain of associations that leads to the abuse of human rights. For us, this is undeniable and indefensible.

Our withdrawal is one action in a multiplicity of others, already enacted and soon to be carried out in and around the Biennale. We do not propose to know the exact ethical, strategic or effective action to end mandatory detention, but we act on conscience and we act with hope.

We have chosen to redirect our energies into multiple forms of action: discussions, workshops, publications, exhibitions and works that will continue to fuel this debate in the public sphere. In this, we stand with our local and international communities that are calling for the closure of Australia’s offshore detention facilities. We ask for their active support in keeping this issue at the forefront of our minds, in the warmest part of our hearts, in the most urgent of discussions and in the most bold of actions, until the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru close.

We withdraw to send a message to the Biennale urging them, again, to act ethically and transparently. To send a message to Transfield that we will not add value to their brand and its inhumane enterprise. Finally, and most importantly, we withdraw to send a message to the Australian Government that we do not accept their unethical policy against asylum seekers.

We ask that the Biennale of Sydney acknowledge the absence of our work from the exhibition. As the Biennale has offered to provide a platform and support for our dissent, we request that our withdrawal be registered on the Biennale website and signposted at the physical site of our projects. In the pervasive silence that the Government enforces around this issue, we will not let this action be unnoticed.

We act in solidarity with all those who are working towards a better future for asylum seekers. We hope that others will join us.

Libia Castro
Ólafur Ólafsson
Charlie Sofo
Gabrielle de Vietri
Ahmet Öğüt


Read more at the artists'  #19BoS Working Group website and blog.

"Blog created by artists involved in the 19th Biennale of Sydney to discuss the call to boycott the Biennale over its sponsor Transfield's involvement in offshore mandatory detention."

http://19boswg.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/statement-of-withdrawal-from-19th.html


Manus Insider Reveals Horror Used as Deterrent in the Refugee Camps of "Indefinite Detention"- SBS Interview


Ruth Skilbeck 26.2.2014

The horrific conditions of the Manus Island ‘indefinite’ detention camps were revealed by a former employee, Manus Island Migration Agent, Liz Thompson, who was witness to the attacks on asylum seekers, in an interview with Mark Davis on the SBS program Dateline yesterday evening in Australia,


This was a brave interview, which revealed the horror of the Manus Island non-processing indefinite detention camp using "horror" as a "deterrent" to desperate asylum seekers, refugees and exiles from war and conflict, already traumatised peoples, who are asking the Australian people, whose nation is a signatory of the International Refugee Convention, to give them shelter. This is what the elected government and their industry management teams have come with as their idea of a response.

"It's not designed as a processing facility, it's designed as an experiment in the active creation of horror to deter people from trying in the first place"

- Liz Thompson, Manus Island whistleblower.


Watch Liz's full interview here: 
"