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Letter to P.M. Morrison re Bomana Prison


                                                                                           Valla Beach,
                                                                                            1st May 202

Dear Prime Minister,

Please find enclosed an open letter, addressed to you, and signed by 251 people at our Rural Australians for Refugees market stalls earlier in the year before restrictions on public gatherings were imposed. The letter reads:

“We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the plight of the refugees and asylum seekers who remain in PNG, and in particular about the fate of the men held until recently in Bomana prison. This facility, built at a cost of $20 million by the Australian government, was clearly designed to finally crush the spirits of those detained, with the specific aim of persuading them to return to their homelands. That the 52 detainees have finally signed agreements to be “voluntarily” returned to their countries of origin is a direct and intended consequence of their deliberately punitive treatment in Bomana prison. Forcing them to return home to danger is in clear contravention of our international obligations.

We call on the Australian government to ensure that these malnourished and mentally unwell men receive the medical treatment that they so urgently need. We further call on the government to undertake not to permit their repatriation to face imprisonment or worse in their home countries. The Australian government must find a safe country for their resettlement.”

It is clear from a number of reports that PNG is not a safe place for refugees. Locals have attempted on more than one occasion to break into the accommodation where some refugees are housed, and have threatened to kill them. They are fearful to venture out into the community, where they regularly face assaults and robbery at the hands of local people, who want them to leave their country.

These people are the responsibility of the Australian government, and we owe them a duty of care. We therefore call on the government to do two things. Firstly, to take all the necessary steps to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees in PNG are properly protected whilst they remain there. Secondly, once the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, and it becomes safe to travel, we ask that all these people are resettled in safe third countries, including Australia and New Zealand, so that they can begin to rebuild their shattered lives. We owe them nothing less.

Yours sincerely,


Bellingen and Nambucca District RAR

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