An man whose pen-name is Eaten Fish has won a political cartooning award, but, he’s also imprisoned on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, in one of Australia’s infamous detention camps for asylum seekers.
The 25-year-old man depicted three years of his life inside the camp as he struggled, and continues to struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and debilitating panic attacks.
The Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), who have awarded the same prize to cartoonists jailed or disappeared for their work, said Ali was recognised for his courage in documenting life under Australia’s offshore detention program.
Ali -aka Eaten Fish – has been assaulted earlier this year and continues to endure ongoing sexual harassment from guards, staff and some other detainees, according to a campaign website -not directly run by him.
“Eaten Fish is now under 24 hour watch and remains in the isolation area, Green Zone, of the detention camp. He continues to be propositioned and sexually harassed and his state continues to deteriorate. Eaten Fish needs to be brought to a safe place where he can receive the specialised treatment for the serious conditions he suffers from.”
However, Australia’s Immigration and Border Protection department denied these allegations telling The Guardian:
“The Department strongly denies the claims made by Cartoonist Rights Network International that transferees are subject to ‘beatings, deprivation of food and, even worse, degrading treatment by the guards’.
“The department takes allegations of inappropriate conduct very seriously. Any allegations of inappropriate behaviour by service provider or departmental staff at regional processing centres are immediately reported to the department for investigation. The department currently has no evidence that any of these allegations are true.”
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The country’s policy is meant as a deterrent, meaning it is one of the harshest systems among G20 nations. Anyone ‘caught’ trying to reach Australia by boat is sent for ‘processing’ to camps on Manus or Nauru in the South Pacific and will not be eligible to be resettled in Australia.
Australia’s harsh system has caused international condemnation and has been labelled inhumane by the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch among other organisations and had continued to receive large global coverage.
In mid-August, The Guardian Australia obtained leaked documents from Australia’s Nauru detention centre. The Nauru Files is a cache of 2,116 reports detailing assaults, sexual assaults and self-harm in the secretive centres, that have barred journalists from entering.
Earlier this month, Australia and Papua New Guinea announced the Manus Island detention centre would be shut down. However, the fate of the 800 refugees on the island is unclear and no closure date was given.