Violence in Offshore Detention: Out of Sight is NOT Out of Mind

The open letter to the PM has now closed.

We thank each of the 1272 individuals and organisations who participated in this campaign. Your support has meant a great deal to the people subjected to the routinised and systematic violence in Australia’s Pacific Black Sites.

RAPBS sent the letter to the Prime Minister and other key parliamentarians on October 2, 2015. You can view the PDF Version here. We have been very encouraged by the media coverage of our letter, and by the fact that a number of other open letters and media reports have followed in the days after we began our Out of Sight NOT Out of Mind campaign. We’re just getting started! Watch this site and our Facebook page for further updates.

We encourage those of you who were not able to sign the letter to contact your local MP as as well as the Prime Minister and Immigration Minister direct.

Thank you again for standing against the inhumane, cruel and degrading policy of offshore detention.


Open Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister,

Violence in Australia’s Pacific offshore detention sites in Nauru and Papua New Guinea is a domestic issue.
As organisations and individuals working against violence against women, children and men inside Australia, we stand with the children, women and men held in Australian-funded detention centres overseas, in conditions that expose them to systematic violence.

  • A 23 year-old woman brutally raped and left untreated until the point of organ failure who remains in a critical condition without access to her family or independent support.
  • A 33 year-old year-old woman sexually assaulted by a male nurse contracted to fulfil the responsibilities of the Australian government, who described ‘guards masturbating and laughing as they accompanied her and the other women from a medical appointment’
  • Gay men who express fears of being at risk of death in a sequence of harrowing letters
  • Recognised refugees ‘settled’ in the community subjected to sexual and xenophobic violence
  • Depressed and traumatised inmates exposed to marijuana dependence, traded for sex

These are not isolated cases. Expert after expert testified to a recent Senate Select Committee that the conditions of offshore detention are conducive to family and sexual violence. Professor David Isaacs testified that ‘The living conditions on Nauru put children at high risk of suffering physical or sexual abuse’. Ms Caz Coleman, a former Senior Policy Advisor, stated: ‘the issue of domestic and family violence, sexual exploitation, harassment and assault and child protection matters were obvious from the outset of the centre establishment in Nauru’.

The systemic and structural nature of the conditions that generate this violence against women, children, gay men and families are the outcome of Australian’s policy of ‘deterrence’. The flawed logic of this policy creates fear and terror among would-be asylum seekers by punishing those already within our reach. Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites (RAPBS) argue that this calculated violence now has to be recognized as ‘tantamount to a program of torture’. But precisely because this violence is perpetrated in our offshore equivalent of ‘black sites’, it can be carried out hidden from the eyes of the Australian public.

Feminists, women’s groups and others working against violence against women, children and LGBTIQ peoples all too often work in isolation from refugees and their supporters. We want this separation to end.

Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, says:

‘Those of us who care about violence against women, children and other vulnerable people at home need to care about what happens to these same people elsewhere who are under our care. The Australian government funds the offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island. The centres are, by their very design, unsafe and dangerous places.

These centres cannot be patched up. They must be shut down. The people forcibly held there are those who sought protection in this country. They deserve care, not punishment. Out of sight is not out of mind!’

In solidarity with Rosie Batty and RAPBS, we, collectively, call for the end to systemic sexual, physical and psychological torture in our Pacific Black Sites.

We call for the closure of our Pacific Black Sites.

Sign (your email address will not be displayed or shared)

This petition is now closed.

End date: Sep 14, 2015

Signatures collected: 1272

1,272 signatures
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All of the information in this letter is taken from sources in the public domain. For more information please see the following sites:

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/immigration/2015/08/22/nauru-rapes-there-war-women/14401656002263
http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/rapes-sexual-assault-drugs-for-favours-in-australias-detention-centre-on-nauru-independent-moss-review-20150320-1m46za.html
http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/28/manus-island-detainee-fears-jail-homosexuality-rape
https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/topic/law-crime/2015/07/04/vulnerable-brutalised-and-returned-nauru/14359320002071
https://theconversation.com/here-the-word-future-is-not-a-word-life-as-a-refugee-on-nauru-30079
https://theconversation.com/offshore-detention-black-sites-open-door-to-torture-46400
http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Regional_processing_Nauru/Regional_processing_Nauru/Final_Report