Deathscapes

Perpetual Insecurity 4h - Policy Success

Deathscapes

Self-deportations: onshore / offshore

Protest in Manus Island camp. Man in centre carries banner that reads 'War killing and torture in Syria and now in Manus. The last Syrian.'[imagecaption] Manus protest, 2017. In mid-2015, after two years in detention on Manus Island, PNG, a Syrian asylum seeker signed an agreement to return to a war zone due to grave fears for the well-being of his wife and young daughter. He returned to discover that his home had been bombed. At this time the Australian government had agreed to resettle an additional 12,000 refugees predominantly from Syria, but Syrian asylum seekers held on Manus or Nauru were not considered for resettlement under this arrangement. By October 2017, there was only one Syrian man remaining on Manus Island. Yet, over their years of incarceration on Manus and Nauru, there have been several occasions where people detained in the camps have responded to acts of violence and persecution in their home countries, to articulate solidarity and highlight the reasons why they fled and remain unable to return. In 2017 members of the Parachinarian community protested on Manus and Nauru, the Rohingya community protested on Manus (Mohammad Imran has wrote several articles highlighting the plight of the Rohingya while the experience of another man, Faisal, is told in an article by Abdul Hekmat). On Manus, Iranians protested in solidarity with protesters in Iran at the time. Cartoonist, Eaten Fish has responded on multiple occasions.Cartoon by Eaten Fish shows Iranian flag and words 'I Love Iran/Tehran' and 'I Stand with Iran'‘I Stand with Iran’, 2017. Artwork: Eaten Fish. Eaten Fish holding Afghanistan flag with text 'I stand with Kabul'‘I Stand with Kabul’, 2017. Artwork: Eaten Fish. [/imagecaption]

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Voluntary return’ is one of the objectives of the government for those asylum seekers it detains, either in the community on temporary visas or exiled offshore. People are coerced into signing declarations seeking return to their countries of origin. Intolerable conditions, loss of hope for the future and an inability to see another way out have compelled many to self-deport. This does not necessarily mean it was safe for them to return.

In some cases people have attempted to seek asylum elsewhere and often remain in precarious circumstances there. In others, people have been offered large sums of money to return, in effect, a form of bribery. Those who received negative refugee status determinations have been involuntarily sent back, and some of them have been forced into hiding upon their return. Some of the asylum seekers forcibly returned to their countries of origin during the first iteration of the ‘Pacific Solution’ in the early 2000s were deported to a death sentence, while others, a decade later, were found to still be without safety and security. A few Afghan asylum seekers who were detained on Nauru and returned to Afghanistan were compelled to again seek asylum in Australia.


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