Manus Island: Can You Let This Stand?


As more than 600 asylum seekers remain stranded on an island, denied the basics of life like food and water, Helen Razer asks what you’re going to do to help stop it.

There are a very few things about which even a Hoity Toity lady like me can be certain. One, however, is that this is not the first post about the madness on Manus you, the Australian reader, have seen this week.

Another is that this planned atrocity cannot, in the terms of anything largely recognised as morality, stand.

This cannot stand. To be all New Testament about it.

I am quite aware, of course, that many of you are tired of the topic of asylum seekers. This is not necessarily down to you being an arsehole. It may be borne of an impatience with the Australian governments, both Coalition and ALP, who have so cynically used the lives of those seeking asylum as a political tactic. This game of “Who hates the poor brown foreigners most” has been inflicted on the electorate since 1992. You might be tired of this, and I get that.

What you also may be tired of is your own difficult life, and intrusions into it by do-gooding dicks from Sydney’s North Shore, or similar, who tell you that you are shit if you do not hold up a compassionate candle for those beyond the border. I get that, too. Pompous, well-to-do white saviours telling the rest of us that we’re deplorable because we do not have the time to go to GetUp functions that achieve nothing save for mutual congratulation annoy me as well.

But. Forget all this. Forget the political cynicism. Forget the showy white weepers who pretend they know others’ pain better than you do. Forget the ribbon-wearing and awareness-raising and think, if your national identity has any value to you at all, or even if it does not: what must I do.

Can I let this stand?

Can you? There are 600 souls. First imprisoned, then abandoned by an Australian government that we can clearly not trust to organise a root in a brothel. Fucking, seriously. These souls were incarcerated for the crime of survival, often running from conflicts we supported, and now, they are being left without food, water or any of the basic means for life. Because our incompetent government failed to suck the right diplomatic cock to see these folks settled in another nation.


I mean, of course, “bring them here” and all that. Bring all sixty million of the world’s reported asylum seekers to the nations that caused them to flee their own. Meantime, our nations can rebuild the infrastructure they bombed and forgive the debt they imposed following the colonisation they forced. This is only fair. But, this is not my point.

My point is not utopian today. My point is practical. The Australian government carried out a cruel policy at enormous taxpayer expense and then failed to meet their goals. They have no exit strategy. They are a bad business. They are a bad business that paid billions to private industry to do the torture for them, and they have simply washed their hands of the entire deadly, costly “mistake”.

Can you let this stand? Whether you are a Bleeding Heart or a Practical Proud Australian, you must ask yourself this. Do we permit our own tax dollars to be spent on Kafkaesque punishment for no sort of crime? Do we leave people in the middle of a very impoverished nowhere at the mercy of locals who are, understandably, also angry and afraid?

Do not think Left or Right. Do not think Australian or Foreign. Do not think that these souls, now consigned to hell, are not your comrades.

This problem is mine as it is yours. It is our mess to fix. Just these 600 folks will do for now. 600 folks we can embrace, or leave to rot. We were not complicit in this action, but it is our moral duty to demand their safe resettlement nonetheless.

Write to the Prime Minister. Write to the Minister for Immigration and Bloodied Boots. Call them. Not because you want to be a member of a group, but because you are human. As are our comrades in Manus.

Tell them that this cannot stand.

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Prime Minister
Parliament House
02 6277 7700

The Hon Peter Dutton MP Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
Parliament House
02 6277 7860

Helen Razer in an Australian writer, author and avowed Marxist. She is based in Melbourne and writes regularly for