An open letter from Manus to Minister Dutton concerning the Medivac Bill

Mr Dutton,

How in all conscience can you continue to humiliate and dehumanise severely ill refugees in your own personal and political thirst for power?  You continually use hate speech in order to prevent due justice to be given to us, the remaining refugees on Manus and Nauru.  We are not responsible for shortages in hospital beds. We are dangerously ill only because many treatable illnesses and injuries have not been given adequate medical attention for years.

Lack of hygiene, poor-quality services and deliberate delays have been responsible for this need for a Medivac Bill. Many of the men in PNG have now deteriorated so that illness and injury have become life-threatening. There have already been 12 deaths in your offshore prisons, mostly due to deliberate negligence on behalf of the government.  After the inquest into the death of one of our friends – 24-year-old Hamid Khazaei – Queensland Coroner, Mr Ryan, stated that Hamid died as a result of a ‘series of clinical errors and delays, a lack of antibiotics on Manus Island to treat tropical infections and a failure of Australian immigration officials to urgently grant a doctor’s request for his transfer to Australia.’ The Coroner, Mr. Ryan, also found that the Australian government ‘had not met its responsibility to the detained in providing health care “broadly comparable” to Australia.’ Here he was referring not only to Manus Island but also to the Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby which immigration uses when people are transferred from Manus to Port Moresby for medical treatment. Significantly, Mr Ryan recommended that doctors should be the ones making clinical decisions about who needs treatment and what treatment they need – including medical transfers. These findings and recommendations came out of a rigorous investigation through the Australian Coronial Court system. In Australia the court system is seen as a measured voice of truth in this matter. How can you negate these findings?

And to your accusation that men on Manus are pretending to be severely ill. What is the foundation for such a claim? A letter signed by 6000 Australian doctors supporting this Medivac Bill is overwhelming evidence of desperate need for immediate medical evacuation. Doctors are bound by a Hippocratic Oath and a duty of care. Surely you Mr Dutton, a non-medical man, cannot be disputing their veracity.

After almost six years of living in detention with poor hygiene, lack of medical support and no clear intention as to our resettlement, it is self-evident as to why our mental and physical conditions have deteriorated. Without quick action they will continue to do so.

Mr Dutton, we don’t have the energy or cynicism that is required to invent symptoms or exploit Australia. All we have ever wanted was safety and the opportunity to be fully functioning members of the world. We do understand that it suits you and your political career to have us kept on this island, to use us as scapegoats in your bid to stay in power. Surely a moral option would be to listen to the leading minds in your country who call on a morality that is above and beyond a political party. In this way less lives will be preventably lost and ruined, and less Australian taxpayers’ money will be spent.

Shamindan Kanapadhi (currently detained on Manus Island)


Image: Sarah Hanson-Young, Flickr

Shamindan Kanapathi

Shamindan Kanapathi is a 27 years young Sri Lankan Tamil man and refugee. He has been detained by Australia on Manus for six years. Over a number of years he has been reporting from within the prison camp through social media. In Sri Lanka he was a marketing executive and student. He says: ‘My hopes have been that some day I will be free, will see my family again, be able to help to raise the voices of those who are not heard, to care for those who are not cared for and pursue my dream of becoming a veterinarian.’

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  1. Great true and accurate letter Shamindan congratulations for telling it how it is . The truth will prick the conscience of some of our Parliamentarians l hope they really start to think about what they have allowed Dutton , Morrison and Pelluzio do to innocent people that have been through so much in their own country to then flee to what they thought was a compassionate country that would shield them to find that Australia has had i its compassion and Humanity taken from them by this LNP
    GOVERNMENT and been replaced by a most Militarised torturous Policy which they have inflicted on our Refugee friends for their Political agenda. I’M SO DAM ASHAMED!!!

  2. Your powerful challenge to the Minister stands as an indisputable witness account . I’ve posted it on SOCIAL Justice asylum seekers closed group, and hope it informs and inspires people to be activists for the profound change needed to make Australia the just society I want to live in. You are welcome

  3. Ill prisoners in Australian jails are given medical care regardless of their crimes. Prisoners in our off-shore jails who have never been charged of any crime have long been denied adequate medical care or have had it delayed, sometimes fatally. Those have committed crimes, or even just accused of crimes have been told they will sent to inadequately resourced clinics on Christmas Island. This is an abuse of human rights and morally reprehensible.

  4. Your powerful email stands testament to the despicable human rights violations of this government and hopefully one day will be held in evidence at the trial of both Dutton and Morrison for their unlawful human rights abuses. For, what they are doing in our name, is against international law and I look forward to the day that justice is meted out to these monsters. Their lies and denigration of desperate people is not only inhumane and illegal, it mimics the path that Hitler took toward building his murderous fascist regime and we all know the path that led Germany down. Let’s not go there Australia. Vote the hard right down at the coming election. Take back the power and deliver a fair and just Australia.

  5. ….and if you dont live in Dutton’s electorate, join Getups campaign to oust the far right from our Parliament by having persuasive conversations with voters in those electorates. Voter intentions can be changed and you get training on how to conduct persuasive conversations and change minds.

  6. Shamindan, your letter is an objective and accurate account of the grave situation Australia’s asylum seekers have plummeted to because Australia has not provided the duty of care it is legally bound to do for those seeking asylum in this country.
    Surely Mr Morrison will heed the advice of hundreds of doctors who attest to the immediate need for medical care for the deteriorating conditions of our asylum seekers.
    This is a powerful letter Shamindan. You are a clear voice for fellow asylum seekers.
    I hope it has positive results in Parliament.

  7. Very sorry, Shamindan, that you and the others have had 6 years of suffering on Manus, and that this punitive treatment and violation of human rights has been done in my name. I am deeply ashamed of this behaviour by our Australian government.
    I hope that you will receive relief and justice before long.

  8. Nice to think this communique could cut red tape and confront said Minister face to face – what, with an election looming and all.

  9. Dear Shamindan, thank you for your letter. I am horrified at the ongoing violence and neglect of you refugees and am truly ashamed of our country. The election will give us power to act against this horrendous government, and I hope that soon your hopes and dreams will be realised. Keep strong in the knowledge that all decent citizens in Australia are acting on your behalf to change the current intolerable and illegal situation.

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