Former Manus detainee addresses the UN to call for freedom

Former Manus detainee addresses the UN to call for freedom

Abdul Aziz Muhamat, a refugee and human rights defender, addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva overnight to call out the Morrison Government’s continued cruel treatment of over 800 people still held on Nauru and Manus Island.

“Each day it gets worse for over 800 vulnerable women and men still detained by the Australian Government on Manus Island and Nauru. Human beings are being destroyed, physically and mentally. Twelve people have died. Over 100 have attempted suicide on Manus Island in just the last month,” said Mr Muhamat.

“This is a humanitarian crisis that requires urgent action. I am asking the UN and the international community to demand the Australian Government act humanely.”

“My brothers and sisters on Manus Island and Nauru need a future where they can rebuild their lives in freedom and safety,” said Mr Muhamat.

In February, Mr Muhamat was granted permission to travel from Manus Island to Geneva to receive the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for human rights defenders. He lodged a claim for asylum in Switzerland and in June his claim was approved.

"I came to Australia seeking safety. Instead I was forcibly taken to Manus Island and detained for almost six years in inhumane conditions. Now I am finally free. But I will not rest while over 800 people are still imprisoned indefinitely by the Australian Government,” said Mr Muhamat.

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Mr Muhamat spoke on behalf of the Human Rights Law Centre at the UN Human Rights Council, the UN body responsible for protecting human rights globally. He addressed the UN a week after UN Special Rapporteurs on migrant rights, torture and mental health called on the Morrison Government to immediately provide healthcare to the refugees in its care on Manus and Nauru and transfer those identified as requiring urgent care to Australia.

Edwina MacDonald, a Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, who is in Geneva to monitor Australia on the Human Rights Council, called on the Australian Government to end the suffering of people held on Nauru and Manus.

"The Australian Government continues to act with breathtaking hypocrisy, claiming to support human rights at the UN while indefinitely imprisoning men and women in offshore detention camps.”

"These people – imprisoned for fleeing the same atrocities this Government comes to the UN to condemn - have now been detained for nearly six years. No government can truly stand for human rights while choosing to severely damage the lives of innocent people," said Ms MacDonald.

Read Abdul Aziz Muhamat’s UN statement.

Watch Abdul Aziz Muhamat’s UN statement.

Media contacts:

Abdul Aziz Muhmat (Geneva): +41 782 492 191 (what’s app)

Edwina MacDonald (Geneva): +41 779 531 557; +61 421 472 670 (what’s app)

Michelle Bennett (Melbourne): +61 419 100 519