Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Update on the controversy surrounding the Biennale of Sydney and Australia's policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers

In our last post on the controversy surrounding the Biennale of Sydney and its links with Australia's policy of mandatory detention for asylum seekers we summarised key developments and suggested that the actions of the artists who threatened to withdraw from the event had put the spotlight on the privatisation of Austrlalia's offshore detention policy and not on the policy itself.

"Many are left feeling the real villain (the Australian Government) has been let off the hook - that the privatisation of detention centre management through lucrative contracts with companies like Transfield has facilitated a calculated deferral of blame. Taking out Transfield hasn't solved the problem for the artworld. Future action needs to be aimed at the Australian government and its policy of manadatory detention for asylum seekers as well as its privatisation."

Today Radio New Zealand reports that the principal landowners on whose land Australia's Papua New Guineas detention centre has been built are frustrated by the way things have turned out. One of the landowners, Porou Papi says they are unhappy on two counts. They initially saw the facility as an economic opportunity for Manus Island but the Australian government has not adequately resourced it, and he says they are upset with the treatment of asylum seekers there and the way it reflects on Manus people.

"Why do we have to detain them for? We Manus people love to look after people, not detaining them. We don't like it. We don't like the way the Australians are treating this detention centre. That's what we are cross  about. These people were seeking for asylum. We should be helping them."

This report follows a no-holds-barred interview with a guard at the Manus Island detention centre. After the unrest a the centre earlier this year, where an asylum seeker lost his life, he decided to go public with his concerns in an interview published by the Australian edition of The Guardian. View interview.
Image: Manus Island detention centre