Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a refugee and human rights defender, who has spent nearly six years detained by the Australian Government on Manus Island, overnight addressed the UN Human Rights Council to highlight the Morrison Government’s inhumane treatment of people seeking asylum.
"I was forcibly taken to Manus Island when I asked Australia for protection. I did not find protection. For nearly six years the men, women – and up until last week children – on Nauru and Manus have been exposed to cruel and inhumane conditions. We are all sick. We have been damaged physically and mentally. In the last six years, 12 people have died in offshore detention in Australia’s care."
"I am asking the international community and the UN to put pressure on the Australian Government to take serious action and give us freedom and the chance to rebuild our lives," said Mr Muhamat.
Mr Muhamat spoke on behalf of the Human Rights Law Centre at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council, the UN body responsible for protecting the rights and dignity of people all over the world. He is in Geneva as the 2019 recipient of the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders.
As Australia commences its fourth session as a member of the Council, there is an acute medical crisis in Australia’s offshore detention centres on Manus and Nauru, which has seen numerous incidents of suicide and self-harm, including by children.
Edwina MacDonald, Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, who will travel to Geneva next week to address the Council, called on the Australian Government to demonstrate its commitment to human rights by immediately ending its ongoing abuse of innocent men, women and children.
"As the Australian Government sits on the UN Human Rights Council, professing its commitment to human rights, it is indefinitely imprisoning nearly 1000 men and women in offshore refugee camps on Nauru and Manus."
"These people have now been detained for nearly six years – imprisoned for fleeing the same atrocities this Government comes to the UN to condemn."
"UN committees and experts have consistently and repeatedly denounced Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees as an abuse of human rights."
"This Government turns up at the Human Rights Council speaking of the importance of human rights but these words are hollow and hypocritical in the face of its ongoing cruel and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. No government can truly stand for human rights while choosing to severely damage the lives of innocent people," said Ms MacDonald
For interviews call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519