Mark the national day of action for refugees at University of Sydney

Cover image from "No friend but the mountains"rouz Boochani

“It is only when our theoretical positions are put into practice that we can know their profundity.”

—Behrouz Bouchani, No Friend but the Mountains

We invite you to an event organised by Academics for Refugees at the University of Sydney as part of a national day of action on WEDNESDAY 17 October. From 11 am to 1pm, in front of Fisher Library, staff from the university will conduct a public reading of short passages from the brilliant, ground-breaking book NO FRIEND BUT THE MOUNTAINS by Iranian journalist, Behrouz Bouchani.

Bouchani is one of the asylum seekers currently marooned on Manus Island by the Australian Government, after years of administrative detention. His book was composed in a series of text messages that have been translated by Sydney University academic, Dr Omid Tofighian.

There will be a group photo at 1pm to send a message of hope and support to the men, women and children who are who are struggling as a result of an increasingly harsh and harmful system of immigration detention.

This will be a great opportunity to hear about the conditions on Manus Island directly from the source. There will also be an opportunity to engage in ongoing campaigns, find out about forthcoming actions, and meet with colleagues who are pursuing justice, human rights and essential services for asylums seekers and refugees.

These rights can be secured only by a broad social movement in Australia. And there is more going on in this space than many of us realise. Come along and find out.

Organised by Louise Boon-Kuo (Law School), Vivian Honan (Department of Indonesian Studies), Chris Jordens (Sydney Health Ethics)

If you can’t join us, please take action on your own campus – check out Academics for Refugees – and follow events across across the country via Twitter:





Why care about the health and well-being of asylum seekers?

By Stacy Carter, University of Sydney and Ian Kerridge, University of Sydney

A report on the refugee detention centre in Nauru by five independent clinical experts posted online by The Guardian on Friday paints a bleak picture of life on the island, particularly for children. But why should we care about how these people are being treated?

The report describes the now-familiar wretched conditions of refugee detention. Tents that leak in the rain and become unbearably hot and humid by 10am. Burning white rocks underfoot, little natural shade, dust everywhere, only electric fans for cooling in most areas of the camp.

Mosquitoes that prevent sleep and may carry diseases. Overwhelming boredom. And the hopelessness, helplessness, frustration and despair that accompany radical uncertainty about the future.

The authors detail the effects of this environment on the physical and mental health of asylum seekers. And, not unexpectedly, they recommend changes to the detention centre. This implies, of course, that current conditions should change; that the damage we are doing to these adults and children is unacceptable.

But the Australian government disagrees. It claims current policy is justified because it prevents asylum seekers from dying at sea. Let’s assume for a moment that this is truly the purpose of offshore mandatory detention. The goal – preventing deaths – is worthy, but what means are justified to reach it? Continue reading