Refugees in Limbo: 10 Years of Trauma

Vintage Reds have always supported the Canberra Refugee Action Campaign, which has marked “Ten Years of Trauma”.

Ten years ago the Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd announced that from July 2013 anyone arriving by boat to seek asylum would never settle in Australia.

Thousands of people were detained in Nauru and in Papua New Guinea. Conditions were horrific, and there were fourteen deaths under this regime.

The Albanese government has still not changed Kevin Rudd’s policy: its recent decision to give permanent residence status applied only to those who arrived before July 2013.

At yesterday’s rally on Northbourne Avenue, Mostafa Azimitabar (“Moz“), an Iranian Kurd, spoke movingly of his experience while detained on Manus and in a Melbourne hotel. He was held by our government for 2,727 days in detention for no crime. Now he is in Australia on a temporary bridging visa. No permanent settlement.

On Manus Island, Moz had only coffee and a toothbrush to paint with. When he was released he made a self-portrait, “KNS088”, the number he was given instead of his name when he was a prisoner, and submitted it for the 2022 Archibald Prize, where it was chosen as a finalist. It is painted with coffee and acrylic paint.

Moz: “Life is very precious. Never give up.”

After ten years of trauma, it is time to end this cruelty. The Albanese government must grant permanent visas to all refugees, remove the ban on resettlement and end offshore detention once and for all. It is time to give those who have been stuck in limbo for up to a decade, a permanent home right now!

Canberra refugee action campaign