Ballina Region 4 Refugees is calling for people to join a letter-writing campaign in support of asylum-seekers medevac’d to Australia years ago but in detention ever since.
Ninety men have been in hotels and other types of detention across Australia since 2019 after spending six years on Manus or Nauru islands.
Ballina Region 4 Refugees President Ruth Henderson says the situation is urgent.
Ms Henderson is asking people on the Northern Rivers to write to their local federal members, either Member for Page Kevin Hogan [Nationals] or Member for Richmond Justine Elliott [Country Labor]; to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke; or to Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.
‘They are a forgotten group,’ Ms Henderson says of the detained asylum-seekers, ‘all of them brought here under the guise of receiving medical attention’.
Ms Henderson says many of the men are unwell and have received ‘no medical attention whatsoever’.
‘They’ve been left languishing in hotels or detention centres while others around them have been released,’ she says, ‘there’s no rhyme or reason why some people are being received while others are being detained’.
The asylum-seekers are reportedly being kept in the Brisbane Immigration Transfer Accommodation, Darwin Detention Centre, Villawood in Sydney, Melbourne Immigration Transfer Accommodation and Perth Immigration Transfer Accommodation.
‘I’m the last survivor’: detained asylum-seeker speaks out
Ballina Region for Refugees recently shared a letter from one of the asylum-seekers, a man referred to as Jalal, in a newsletter to members and supporters.
‘Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my problems,’ Jalal began, ‘thank you for taking the time to listen to [me].
‘I have spent eight years of my life in Australian detention.
This is because I fled from my country to save my life and I asked Australia to help and save me.
‘The Australian Government says your only fault is that you came by boat.
‘I would like to say that if I could travel to Australia by plane, why did I choose the ocean way.
‘Why should I put my life in a small boat and the dangerous ocean?
‘I certainly had no choice, so I had to take this path.
‘From these eight years, I was living in a tent without fan and air con in Nauru island at 2013 to 2019.
‘For the first and a half year , we only had 3 minutes to take shower in a day.
‘Many problems occurred that couldn’t be explained in a few minutes.
‘Women, men, and children harmed themselves because they were tired of that hell.
‘More than twenty young people died on the island،
because of difficult conditions.
‘Women had abortions in the toilet, the situation was so horrible that everyone was suffering from mental and physical problems.
‘And I’m the last survivor of them, I’m still alive please feel me a minute.
‘I want someone to hear my voice and tell me what’s my crime that I should be in detention for eight years.
‘I need someone to hear my voice and tell me what is my crime that after eight years nobody telling me when I’ll be free.
‘And how long I have to stay in detention?
‘Four people are living in a small room in detention now.
‘The mental and physical pressure on us are so huge that I can’t even think for a moment about it, because it will drive me crazy.
‘We say we are human, and we should love each other. They treated me worse than a wild animal.
‘Am I not human or are they? Please Someone explain to me.
‘We need your help, we need your help like human needs oxygen, like children need parents, like plants need soil.
‘Thank you and God bless you.’
Ms Henderson says Ballina for Refugees wants members and supporters to keep the situation alive in the mind of parliamentarians.
‘Really, for eight years, this has been going on far too long,’ Ms Henderson says, ‘we really want to see these men treated fairly and justly and released from detention’.