The news coming out of Manus over the last couple of weeks has been gut-wrenching to say the least, with the mistreatment of refugees this time not going unnoticed by the public. The disappointing handling (and handballing) of the situation by the Australian government has been at the centrepoint of media and academic coverage, with experts like Julian Burnside leading the charge to maintain pressure on politicians to resolve the issue of relocating the 606 refugees on Manus who no longer have accomodation or services.
We too at Scribe are disappointed and horrified by these latest events, which are unfortunately just another chapter in a long-running narrative of human rights abuses. We have released several books on the topic that we thought it timely to share, most notably What is a Refugee? by William Maley. Barrister of the High Court of Australia and vice-president of the Refugee Council of Australia, William Maley’s book is an illuminating guide to the complex idea of ‘the refugee’ which sets recent events within the wider history of human exile, injecting much needed objectivity and nuance into the debate.
Julian Burnside QC, also a noted barrister and former president of Liberty Victoria, has written extensively on human rights and the law. His book Watching Brief: reflections on human rights, law, and justice was released almost a decade ago, but is as relevant now as it was then. In Watching Brief, Julian articulates a sensitive and intelligent defence of the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees, and the importance of protecting human rights and maintaining the rule of law. His latest book Watching Out: reflections on justice and injustice (a follow up to Watching Brief), is another remarkable read covering a wide range of topics, including asylum-seekers, with a compelling chapter on the plight of people who are bereft of legal remedies and living on the margins of society, and some shocking examples of the hate mail that Julian’s defence of refugees has provoked.
Another revealing book on the subject is Human Rights Overboard: seeking asylum in Australia, by Linda Briskman, Susie Latham, and Chris Goddard (with a foreword from Julian Burnside). This book looks at The People’s Inquiry into Detention — a citizen’s inquiry established to bear witness to events in Australia’s immigration-detention facilities. The book draws together, for the first time, the oral testimony and written submissions from the inquiry in a powerful and vital book that stands as an indictment of Australia’s refugee policy.
We at Scribe have always endeavoured to publish books that matter, and hope that these titles (among others, including Confessions of a People-Smuggler and A Certain Maritime Incident) will educate and inform the public on issues that are sometimes complex and mostly ignored by mainstream media, but that definitely need to be seen and acted upon by the Australian public.
To take action, please call your local Federal MP and note your concern and disappointment at the treatment of the 606 men on Manus Island. You can also follow Julian Burnside on Twitter @JulianBurnside for updates and commentary on this and other issues.