For thirty years during every Australian federal election campaign, our lives have been used as political fodder to advance the careers of politicians and their associates. We are not your political pawns. Enough is enough – we request the Australian public NOT to vote for any political parties or politicians that support mandatory detention centres; this includes the Australian Labor Party (who initiated the current system of mandatory detention and indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers under Prime Minister Paul Keating), Liberal-National coalition (who opened offshore camps and supported the Labor party’s mandatory and indefinite detention policy) and the Greens (who support a 7-day mandatory detention policy) or any other independent party candidate that supports mandatory detention policies.

It is not rocket science to realise that for decades, we refugee detainees and ex-detainees have been the centre of election campaigns. Now, unlike in the past, there is a copious amount of evidence and information readily available to Australian voters, regarding people seeking asylum by boats in Australia as well as the torture that we have experienced in and outside detention centres.

No Australian voter who has access to the English language can escape from the responsibility of taking action to end this crime against humanity by saying “we don’t know” or “is this happening in Australia?”. We view such statements with scepticism. It also means that our voices and experiences have been completely and deliberately erased, ignored or dehumanised. Do detention rape and torture survivors need to come to your doorstep and tell you why you shouldn’t vote for those who support mandatory detention policies and beg for you to not vote for parties that support mandatory detention policies? 

eX-detainee, Detention historian and RISE founder Ramesh Fernandez says “Australian mandatory detention policy is the backbone of Australia’s white supremacist refugee policies in Australia – every political party, organisation and individual supporting a mandatory detention policy regardless of the length of detention – is feeding into this white nationalist, ultra-racist structure. Since the mandatory detention policy was introduced, in 1992, there have been so many more policies that have been introduced to make life miserable for our community – most particularly for those of us arriving by boat to Australia.”

‘It doesn’t matter whether political parties, organisations or individuals support or do not support other refugee policies if they support or ignore refugee and “humanitarian” policies that enable crimes against humanity to be committed against us, by for example allowing arbitrary detention of asylum seekers in the form of a mandatory detention policy.”

Institutional Torture, Xenophobia, Queer-phobia, Abuse and Refoulement as well as so many other crimes committed against refugees due to the policy of mandatory detention, MUST NOT be tolerated in any shape or form. It doesn’t matter if it is for one minute or one day or indefinitely. We also condemn the fact that in addition to mandatory and indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers, both the Labor and Liberal national coalition also support pushing back refugee boats into the sea. Removing our rights to freedom of movement is xenophobic and discriminatory; such types of abusive and institutionalised control of refugees should not be tolerated.

RISE holds the view that this aggressive culture of xenophobia is most likely attributable to “Australia” being founded by genocide, and white colonial theft of the lands of Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples, with the colonisers of these lands, introducing control mechanisms such as the ‘White Australia’ policy to police those who come into this land, and the circumstances in which they come. Due to Australia’s aggressive, racist mandatory detention policy, our eX-detainee members are permanently damaged, criminalised and made to feel unwanted. This has turned us into an underclass, where we are structurally disabled forever in Australia. Further, it is alarming that after the trauma of fleeing one’s homeland, the trauma of indefinite and prolonged administrative detention and the trauma of settling into an unfamiliar environment, people are expected to deal with such overt anti-refugee sentiments all over the country.

eX-detainees do not support any form of detention, doesn’t matter 1 day or 30 days or 1 year. Say NO to abusive and institutionalised control of refugees during this federal election. Enough is Enough, RISE eX-detainees urge the Australian public NOT to vote for our oppressor or the parties supporting any refugee detention policies.

Those who support mandatory detention under the cloak of “border control” or “humane refugee policies” or “combating people smugglers” are oppressors of one of the most persecuted people on the planet. This is what most Australian politicians are advocating for during the 2022 federal election. eX-detainees in Australia, have the right to resist and request our supporters NOT to cast their votes to oppress our communities. We call for the abolition of mandatory detention policy, detention centres and refugee boat push-backs during this Federal election in 2022.

You have the power to elect politicians that do NOT support the mandatory torture of refugees in a detention centre and it is time to recognise the influence that your votes have on your institutions. We don’t need a middle ground, we need proper solidarity, otherwise, you have blood on your hands for sure.

RISE eX-detainee Team