Refugee on Manus recognised for cartoon work

4:19 pm on 29 August 2016

An Iranian refugee at the Manus Island regional processing centre in Papua New Guinea has been given an international award for his work as a cartoonist.

Iranian refugee and cartoonist Ali has been held on Manus for three years.

Iranian refugee and cartoonist Ali has been held on Manus for three years. Photo: Ali/Eaten Fish

The 25-year old refugee named Ali, known as Eaten Fish, has won the 2016 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning from Cartoonists Rights Network International.

Ali has been held on Manus for three years after being forcibly transferred there by Australia, and has documented the harsh realities of the processing centre through his cartoons.

Ali's cartoons document the harsh realities of the processing centre.

Ali's cartoons document the harsh realities of the processing centre. Photo: Ali/Eaten Fish

His work, which portrays his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder, has been published in The Guardian.

Cartoonists Rights Network International applauded Ali for his courage in "documenting the unspeakable abuses and excesses of the guards and administrators of the camp".

The organisation said the refugee "has been the subject of beatings, deprivation of food, and even worse degrading treatment by the guards".

It also noted that "Australia has made publication of negative information about the camp punishable by two years in prison".

In April, PNG's Supreme Court ruled that holding people against their will on Manus was illegal, and ordered the closure of the Manus centre where about 900 men were sent for processing of their claims for asylum.

This month, Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said both government had agreed to work together to close Manus.

Iranian refugee and cartoonist Ali's work portrays his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Iranian refugee and cartoonist Ali's work portrays his struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Photo: Ali/Eaten Fish

However both PNG or Australia seem unable or unwilling to resettle the men held on Manus, the vast majority of whom have so far been found to be genuine refugees.

Meanwhile, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has voiced concerns over Australia's handling of the asylum seekers and refugees on Manus, claiming international rules had been breached.

The MEHR news agency reports that he made the comment while receiving the credentials of Australia's new ambassador in Tehran, Ian Bigg.

Mr Bigg admitted there were concerns over Australia's handling of refugees, but said Canberra had recently agreed with PNG to close the Manus centre in response to international demands on a humanitarian basis.

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