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9 Reasons Why Malcolm Turnbull Is Feeling The Heat On Offshore Detention Centres

Rosie Batty joins the growing chorus of people pressuring the prime minister to shut down detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

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1. Domestic violence campaigner and Australian of the Year Rosie Batty.

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Australian of the Year Rosie Batty put her name to an open letter to the prime minister Malcolm Turnbull demanding that he shut down the offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. It was sent to Turnbull by a group of academics called Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites.

"Those of us who care about violence against women, children and other vulnerable people at home need to care about what happens to these same people elsewhere who are under our care. The Australian government funds the offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island. The centres are, by their very design, unsafe and dangerous places," Batty writes.

2. The letter was also signed by organisations that fight violence against women, including the Luke Batty Foundation, the Domestic Violence Legal Workers Foundation and the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance.

"As organisations and individuals working against violence against women, children and men inside Australia, we stand with the children, women and men held in Australian-funded detention centres overseas, in conditions that expose them to systematic violence," the letter reads.

"We feel that you can't actually separate violence on the Australian mainland from violence being perpetrated in Australian-run detention centres abroad," Suvendrini Perera from Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites told BuzzFeed News.

"This letter was a way of getting feminists, gay men, children, people who worked against violence against women, to get them to look at what was happening outside our borders," she said.

3. The UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images

64 scholars this week signed another open letter after the UN’s human rights expert cancelled his trip to Australia because he believed the Border Force Act that gags detention centre workers would prevent him from being able to carry out an investigation.

"This threat of reprisals with persons who would want to cooperate with me on the occasion of this official visit is unacceptable," UN Rapporteur Francois Crepeau said.

"The Act prevents me from fully and freely carrying out my duties during the visit, as required by the UN guidelines for independent experts carrying out their country visits," he said.

Under the Border Force Act, immigration detention centre employees face prison term of two years if they speak out about the conditions of the detention centres.


4. An online petition with 20,000 signatures from "the women of Australia".

"Many women across Australia understand only too well what it is like to live in fear of violence and sexual assault."

"That’s why we can no longer watch in silence as some of the world’s most vulnerable people confront that horror in the twilight world of Australia’s detention centres," the petition reads.

5. 445 staff members from Malcolm Turnbull's former university.

Peter Parks / AFP / Getty Images

The open letter from academics, management and other workers at Sydney University condemns Australia's treatment of refugees and describes the Border Force Act as "abhorrent".

"Circumstances in immigration detention centres... [have] nothing whatsoever to do with national security," it says.

"We are deeply distressed at the erosion of our society's democratic ethos and of its core freedoms that such legislation represents."

6. Liberal MP Russell Broadbent.

Alan Porritt / AAPIMAGE

A moderate conservative, Broadbent spoke out against his party on better treatment of detainees under former prime minister John Howard. He has urged Malcolm Turnbull to remove children from Nauru.

"You know what happens to a weeping sore if you don't deal with it. It becomes a raging ulcer," he told Fairfax Media.

7. Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs.

@GillianTriggs / Via

"I understand the prime minister will want proper consultation and to think about this, but the truth is, in the longer term, it is simply unsustainable," she said.

"There has to be a rethinking of the policy. We have to find some equitable way of dealing with those who have fled persecution."

8. This chilling 7:30 report about the sexual assault of female refugees living in Nauru.

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The ABC obtained a recording of a phone call to police immediately after a 26-year-old Somali woman was allegedly raped by two Nauruan men.

The shocking report has prompted many to question the ability of the Nauruan justice system to protect victims on the island.

Speaking to ABC Radio, Malcolm Turnbull described the rape allegations as "very alarming".

9. Letters from asylum seekers on offshore detention centres.

Letter from families in #Nauru detention centre to @TurnbullMalcolm: “We hope Aus shows a welcoming hand for us too”

"We are demanding you to show compassion to our children, our wives, our husbands and our families," the letter reads.

Refugee advocates told BuzzFeed News they have been overwhelmed with similar letters from people in offshore detention centres since Malcolm Turnbull took office.

In another letter, an asylum seeker on Manus Island begs the PM to "show humanity to us."

"I don’t like begging for anything but your treatment forced me to do it again and again, congrats to new pm please you show us the real Australian treatment not like that guard or immigration officer who assaulted to me and other people in offshore," he writes.

A Senate inquiry into the Nauru detention centre heard there were 67 allegations of child abuse up until May this year. 33 asylum seekers alleged they had been been raped or sexually assaulted at the centre.

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Alexandra Lee is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

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