Manus Island refugee says Dutton’s departure won’t make a difference

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Peter Dutton has resigned from cabinet following his dramatic failed leadership coup, losing the vote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull 48-35.

Dutton will be relegated to the back bench and give up his role as Home Affairs Minister, in which he has been heavily criticised, particularly for the treatment of refugees in Australia’s detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Adam, who has been detained on Manus Island for five years, describes Dutton as “heartless, racist and selfish” and told Dscribe he is not convinced a new minister will lead to policy changes regarding refugees on Manus Island or Nauru.

Aziz says he doubts a new minister will change the refugees’ circumstances and “as long as all Australian politicians agree to put us in this situation, nothing will change”.

“I believe there is no difference between the ministers, they are just following the rules of the party. I think if someone else comes in after Dutton, he is just going to be the same as Dutton and nothing will change,” Aziz says.

About 1500 people, including 120 children are currently detained on Manus Island and Nauru. So far, 84 men of more than 600 have been settled in America in a deal made by Turnbull and former US president Barack Obama.

Current president Donald Trump’s travel ban saw every Somalian and Iranian refugee detained at Nauru and Manus Island rejected for US resettlement.

Dutton said refugees who are not resettled in the US will remain in Papua New Guinea indefinitely and that no refugees will be settled in Australia.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Arden’s offer to resettle 150 Manus Island refugees was refused by the government, who claimed the policy would be used as a “back door” to get into Australia.

In April 2016, the PNG Supreme court found Australia’s offshore detention centre was “unconstitutional” and in breach of human rights laws, which led to the opening of three transient centres housing refugees at a cost of $30 million to the Australian Federal Government.

Following the closure of the main centre, refugees have limited access to medical and mental health care, and Aziz says many of the men detained are suffering psychologically. He says many have lost hope and he has seen friends die due to medical neglect and violence.

“I don’t feel hopeful for my future, I’m just like everybody else here, I’m hopeless and I don’t see any green light about my future, but I need to stay positive so no matter how hard this gets I’m going to stay positive,” he says.

“I know that if I become negative, some of my friends here who are suffering from several mental health problems, some of who are committing suicide, so for that reason I need to stay focused and positive.”

Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani says it is unsafe for men to leave the centre because there have been a number of unprovoked and violent attacks on refugees by the locals and the PNG defence force.

Behrouz Boochani. Source: Asylum Seeker Resource Center

The Guardian Essential Poll revealed that, of 1783 voters, 53% disagreed with the statement “the government is too tough on asylum seekers”.

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