The ongoing abuses of Australia's refugee policy
Publisher: Harper's Magazine
Year Published: 2018
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX23000
A first person account of the refugee crisis in Australian detention centres. At great expense the Australian government holds detainees offshore in crowded camps, many of whom are stranded and living under deplorable conditions.
Lightning flashed behind the fiberglass banana boat, but ahead of us the night sky was clear and the water was calm. Ezatullah Kakar, a Pakistani refugee, and I were in the South Pacific Ocean, 2 degrees shy of the equator, just off the coast of Papua New Guineas Manus Island. As we cut smoothly through the flat sea, one of the men aboard passed the skipper a beer. The mood was tense and quiet, the three-man crew speaking only when necessary. Kakar didn't share their apprehension. He took out his phone, ran one hand through his wavy hair, threw his arm around me, and snapped a moonlit selfie of the two of us. I must have looked nervous, because Kakar smiled encouragingly at me. "I believe if we are doing good things, no one will catch us," he said.
The hull of the boat was stocked with shopping bags containing food and medication - bread, peanuts, cigarettes, acetaminophen - that Kakar had bought that afternoon in Lorengau, the main town on Manus Island. He had volunteered to make the hour-long boat trip every other day to smuggle necessities to the more than 400 men living inside the Manus Regional Processing Centre, an Australian offshore holding facility for refugees and asylum seekers.