The cry from Manus must not be ignored

The studied indifference of Australia’s leaders to the abandonment of refugees on Manus Island is becoming a permanent stain on this country’s name, the human rights body Liberty Victoria said today.

As troops prepare to occupy the refugees’ former prison the world will be watching Australia to see if we lift a finger to help, said Liberty President Jessie Taylor.

Months ago the New York Times wrote after touring Nauru and Manus: ”The world’s refugee crisis knows no more sinister exercise in cruelty than Australia’s island prisons.”

“The decision to walk away from the men on Manus doubles down on that cruelty,” she said.

“The cries for help from these men are now, through TV, being heard across the world but Canberra seems content to condemn these men to their fate.”

By abandoning its White Australia policy and attempting to undo some of the harm that white settlement has done to Australia’s Indigenous people, the country appeared to be moving forward and, to a degree, redeeming itself in the eyes of the world.

“But now the calculated and almost unbelievably callous decision to abandon human beings in a place where they fear for their safety shames us all.

“A doctor’s revelation on 7.30  last night of the bureaucratic delays in having sick refugees given proper treatment shows this cruelty reaching the level of sadism.

“And yet for grubby political advantage, the major political parties continue to sing along to the broken record which says no one who comes by boat can enter Australia. If, as seems likely, there are injuries and even possibly more fatalities among the abandoned, their blood will be on Canberra’s hands.”