A Rohingyan refugee held on Manus Island for more than two-and-a-half years has pleaded for Australia to “end this political game” and find resettlement for refugees in a safe country.
Imran Mohammad Fazal Hoque, 22, who fled Myanmar as a teenager, has written a 26-page account of nearly 1,000 days spent in the Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island.
Imran, who learned English while in detention and whose written account was assisted by teachers on the island and compiled by friends in Australia, said his dossier was “the cry of a voice in isolation ... to the whole world”.
“I am a Rohingyan boy from Myanmar (Burma). I am 22 years old now. I have been persecuted and deprived of my basic human rights since I was born right up to now. I have never known safety or peace, and I have never known citizenship or a right to call any country my own.”
Imran describes in comprehensive detail the daily privations, and the restrictions on movement and communication on Manus Island. His words offer a rarely seen insight into daily life in the Australian-run detention centre.
He writes that there is regularly not enough food in the detention centre, and people often miss out on meals. There was no dentist on Manus for 15 months, no chance for private conversation with family, and detainees’ personal property was often stolen or withheld.
“These types of inhumane and cruel torture devastate us and make us furious and, most importantly, put us in a desperate position where the human mind loses control. One can do extreme things when pushed to their limits. For example, we can take our own lives.”
Imran was a teenager when he fled Rakhine state in western Myanmar – the country formerly known as Burma – where the religious and ethnic minority face extreme state-sponsored repression and persecution.
Often described as “the most persecuted people on Earth”, the Muslim minority Rohingya are denied citizenship and regularly attacked by state security forces or anti-Muslim mobs. Rohingya are forced from their homes, which are often razed to the ground, into camps, prohibited from moving, banned from all but the most basic education, and forbidden from many jobs.
Arriving in Indonesia, Imran was first recognised as a refugee – that is he faced a “well-founded fear of persecution” in his homeland and could not be returned – by the UNHCR in 2013.
However, with no refugee protection available in Indonesia (the country is not a party to the Refugees Convention) and without prospect of resettlement, Imran boarded a boat for Australia, ending up on Christmas Island, before being transferred to Manus on 29 October 2013. He has since been recognised as a refugee for a second time, this time by Papua New Guinean authorities.
Imran writes that since the Papua New Guinea supreme court decision in May this year – which found the detention centre on Manus Island was “unconstitutional and illegal” – conditions have got worse in the camp.
“The safety of our lives has dropped significantly since this centre was found to be illegal.”
Imran has pleaded with Australia to “end this political game” and find a peaceful, durable solutions for those held in offshore detention.
“We have had more than enough of this torture. We are in a situation in which it is difficult to choose what to do because whatever we do, there are negative consequences.
“We are neglected, abandoned, tortured, humiliated, beaten to death and most notably accused of being criminals and terrorists without committing any crimes.”