Former detainees urge UK MPs to not support the 'cruel' nationality and borders bill Photograph:( AFP )
The two former refugees have been supported by two other signatories who worked in the detention camps - Dr Nick Martin and Carly Hawkins
In what comes as a "dire warning" to the UK MPs, two former detainees in Australia’s immigration detention centres have urged the parliamentarians to not support the nationality and borders bill, which contains a proposal to grant the UK permissions to send migrants to a third country in order to have their asylum claims processed.
The two former detainees who have issued the warning by signing a letter include Thanush Selvarasa and Elahe Zivardar.
Thanush is a Tamil refugee who was held in Manus Island detention centre for nearly 7 years before. He now works as a campaigner for asylum seekers’ rights. Elahe, who happens to be an Iranian artist and refugee was held in the Nauru detention centre for 6 years.
It is said that if this bill is passed, it will lower down protection for refugees.
These two former refugees have been supported by two other signatories who worked in the detention camps - Dr Nick Martin and Carly Hawkins. Organisations including Amnesty International (UK and Australia), Lancet Migration, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Refugee Council, Human Rights Watch and Doctors of the World have also shown their support for the letter.
UNHCR has denounced the plans and warned that if the bill becomes law it will undermine the 1951 refugee convention. In a statement, the organisation said, "UNHCR calls upon the UK to guarantee the right to seek and enjoy asylum for all persons under its jurisdiction, including those who enter, or seek to enter, irregularly, and not merely those who have already been recognised as refugees outside of the UK and who arrive through resettlement or other legal pathways".
It further said that the attempts to relieve pressure on the UK asylum system are "neither effective nor sustainable" ways to address the system’s current weaknesses.
The letter states, "As people who were detained indefinitely in Australia’s offshore camps on Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, and as professionals who were employed there, we are deeply concerned to learn that the UK government seeks to grant itself the same power to transfer people seeking asylum to offshore detention centres."
It further mentioned how these people are writing with a dire warning. It further goes on to state that the people cannot imagine why the country wants to go ahead with "such a cruel, costly and ultimately futile system.”
(With inputs from agencies)