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Letters—Don’t let them copy Australia’s offshore detention centres 

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Issue 2725
A demonstration outside the Kangaroo Point hotel, which was holding around 105 refugees transferred from Manus and Nauru for medical treatment.
A demonstration outside the Kangaroo Point hotel, which was holding around 105 refugees transferred from Manus and Nauru for medical treatment. (Pic: Solidarity)

Home Secretary Priti Patel’s proposal to dump asylum seekers on the remote volcanic outcrop of Ascension Island is mimicking Australia’s racist refugee policy.

Australia’s offshore detention regime sees people who seek asylum by boat being held indefinitely in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. 

These are places where Australia continues its neo‑colonial hold.

Refugees have been detained there for over seven years, and 13 people have died.

Hamid Kahazei died of lack of treatment for an infected cut foot. Reza Barati was murdered in an attack by guards, while others have killed themselves in despair.

Amnesty International describes Australia’s offshore detention camps as “akin to torture”. Patel’s proposal has been described as “implausible”. 

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen if the Tories decide the politics is worth the cost.

Australia’s offshore detention regime has been hugely costly. But it happened.  

Patel has also used Australia’s (Tory) Coalition political playbook, describing refugees as “illegal migrants”. 

But it is not illegal to seek asylum, regardless of the means of arrival. 

The refugee movement in Australia has had some wins as a result of mass protest and union action. 

These included a teachers’ walkout for refugees and a union blockade of a hospital to prevent a baby treated for burns being sent offshore. 

While the struggle is far from over, all families and children have been brought from Nauru to Australia. And hundreds of refugees have now been brought to Australia for medical treatment.

Anything that can be done to prevent Patel’s “brainstorming” from becoming a living nightmare will matter. 

In Australia, Labor’s support for offshore detention has helped fuel the Tories’ cruelty and racism. 

The “Australian solution” is not a model to emulate. 

Australia’s detention regime should be seen with the same international disgust as apartheid was in South Africa.

Chris Breen 

Member of Solidarity in Victoria, Australia 

Advice led to outbreak

Students at the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) have been encouraged back to university. This was through claims the authorities have “thought of everything” and they are “Covid-19 free campuses”.

However, without warning 1,500 students have been locked in MMU halls. 

The only message they’ve received was from the Vice Chancellor saying the protest signs they had put in their windows were “illegal”. 

The university’s unclear and unsafe rules are what has caused a rise in Covid-19, not students themselves. 

Not only are students paying full rent and full education fees they have less teaching and fewer opportunities for making friends. 

Universities bought us back to Manchester on the promise of face‑to‑face teaching. 

This is already being debated due to the six person rule. 

We wanted to show our solidarity to students trapped in halls and to say no to blaming students, high fees and staff redundancies.

We held an emergency Zoom meeting last Friday and a protest after outside the halls of residence. 

We must ensure that what happened at MMU happens nowhere else and that students are adequately compensated.


University of Manchester

Trump win was about more than adverts 

According to a recent Channel 4 investigation Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign used data mined from social media to target black people. 

Ads to this demographic were focused on Hillary Clinton’s 1996 racist comments about “super predators”. 

The report tries to link Trump’s win with the collapse of the Democratic vote in black communities. 

But it seems unlikely that Trump’s ads were a bigger factor than disappointment with Barack Obama and the awfulness of Clinton. 

Ordinary people are not empty vessels influenced only by the media. US liberals have tried to paint Trump’s victory as an aberration that will be fixed by electing Joe Biden. 

It was precisely this “normal” in US politics that gave us Trump.

Bethan Turner 

east London

Oppose HS2 line and the wider system 

With the felling of the 300 year old Hunningham Oak near Leamington Spa and other woodland in Staffordshire, the HS2 rail line continues to ride over people and the environment. 

Currently, Jones Hill Wood, near Great Missenden Fox, is in imminent danger. 

I was on the camp a few days ago and was inspired by rebels that were prepared to live high up in the trees to protect them.

My experience of the Extinction Rebellion and Say No to HS2 camps are a glimpse of a society where people share resources and communally look out for each other.

The camps are a hive of discussion, protest poetry and song.

Earlier this summer I was one of those who embarked on the XR Rebel Trail and walked the proposed route of HS2 from Birmingham to London.

The conclusions being drawn by many activists is that the fight cannot stop with HS2 and that we need to oppose the capitalist system as a whole. 

So It’s not surprising that the Rebel Trail took the knee on an A road en route and then joined the Black Lives Matter and trans rights demonstrations in London. 

The rebels currently in the camps are brave and principled and would welcome support as the HS2 nets close in and winter approaches. 

Pat Jones


Remember Bloody Sunday

I’ve heard first hand accounts from people who lived through the British army’s occupation of Northern Ireland and saw the army behaviour on Bloody Sunday. I’m not excusing violence from any quarter. 

These were people on a protest, including kids. They were shot in the back running away. 

They were unarmed and illegally killed by bullets. And soldiers laughed and patted each other on the backs. 

The British army is a cold blooded army that I am not proud of. 

Sharron Smyth 

On Facebook 

The culprit is the British State. They sent the troops to Northern Ireland to control Catholics. 

They interned innocent men for the crime of being Catholic. 

They carried out undercover assassinations. The soldiers are their agents, acting under orders.

Philip Foxe 

On Facebook

Corbyn didn’t fight the right

Jeremy Corbyn opened the door to Keir Starmer.  

He refused to wage a struggle against the Blairites, of which Starmer is a personification. 

Thousands of members wanted a struggle to drive these scoundrels out. The refusal by Corbyn to pursue one led to Starmer.


On Twitter 

Miscarriages aren’t shameful

It is terrible that some people online were condemning celebrity Chrissy Teigen for posting on social media about losing her baby due to pregnancy complications. 

Miscarriages and stillbirths are often taboo in our deeply sexist society that criticises women for almost everything they do. 

Women should be able to share their experiences and trauma and people shouldn’t ratify the idea that it is something to be hidden away. 

Bethany Pugh 


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