Australian Govt continues to deport asylum seekers to Iraq
Australia's government is continuing to deport asylum seekers to Iraq despite unrest, sparking protests on PNG's Manus Island.
The head of Australia's Refugee Action Coalition says the Australian government is continuing to deport asylum seekers to Iraq, despite the country spiralling towards civil war.
Ian Rintoul says this has led to the first major protest at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea since the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati in February.
Mr Rintoul told Jamie Tahana the asylum seekers and advocates in Australia have appealed for a moratorium on deporting asylum seekers to Iraq, but the Immigration minister, Scott Morrison, has rejected this.
IAN RINTOUL: The sad truth is that the Australian government has forcibly removed people from Australia back to Iraq and in spite of there being pleas to the Australian government even in the last few days from refugee advocates and from the Greens, the Immigration Minister said that they will still be and still intend to send people back to Iraq and that there'll be no moratorium in Australia at all and no special consideration given to the Iraqi asylum seekers even though there is clearly tremendous social disruption in Iraq at the moment.
JAMIE TAHANA: So this could escalate into civil war where Australia's had to close its embassy and this has made no difference to the plan to send asylum seekers back there.
IR: It seems not, no. It seems absolutely extraordinary. I mean Iraq is almost at the level of civil war and dislocaton that exists in Syria and yet the government is refusing to process people, I mean there are many hundreds of asylum seekers who are in the community in Australia, some of them for longer than a year who haven't been processed. The government is refusing to start the process for those Iraqi asylum seekers and as we've said there are still Iraqi asylum seekers that the government has forcibly removed and says that it does intend to do that in the future.
JT: Of course there are ones on Manus Iasland and Nauru and that's led to them protesting has it?
IR: Yes well it's a combination but the first protest since the death of Reza Berati on Manus Island started yesterday by the Iraqi asylum seekers who've become very acutely aware obviously of the situation at home for them, where very often their families have been left in very dangerous situations and deteriorating situations but there's been no special recognition of their situation either. Some of them have been there longer than a year. Over a hundred Iraqi asylum seekers on Nauru but there's still no sign of them being processed and still no sign that the Australian government has any intention to resettle them or to give them the security that they need.
JT: With these particular protests what were they calling for? A review of the situation now that's Iraq's impossible?
IR: Well basically they are calling for freedom and they're calling for the government to resettle them and give them some security. They've been left in limbo. They don't know how long they'll be on Manus Island, they've got no idea whether they will be processed or when that will begin and as the situation gets worst for their families they've got more desperate. So they want freedom, they want resettlement, they want the ability to be able to help their family in some way but on Manus Isalnd that is simply impossible and the Australian government is making sure it stays impossible but we think all the Iraqi asylum sekeers should be brought from Manus Island to Australia and the processing should be happen while they're in the community.
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