On Tuesday The Guardian drew attention to a comic book produced by the Department of Customs and Border Protection, which paints a miserable picture of life inside Australia’s offshore detention centres.
These are images that the Australian Government is usually reluctant to reveal. They illustrate the truth about Manus detention centres which Amnesty International has been campaigning hard to make public.
Although the government claims that it wants to treat asylum seekers with “dignity and respect,” their comic suggests otherwise.
Instead, it clearly shows that the cruel and humiliating conditions on Manus and Nauru are deliberately designed to deter innocent people from seeking protection in Australia.
The same may be true of detention centres on Australian soil. Earlier this month the Global Mail published their own comic strip, A Guard’s Story. It raises grave concerns about Serco, the global security company hired to run Australia’s onshore detention centres.
The comic tells the story of a former Serco employee, who claims that Serco staff receive almost no training, despite working with extremely vulnerable and mentally traumatised people. The comic also shows Serco subjecting asylum seekers to deliberately harsh and humiliating treatment.
These stories paint a bleak picture of Australia’s asylum seeker policies. But another comic published last week by renowned Australian illustrator Matt Huynh gives cause for hope.
Ma tells the story of Matt’s parents, who fled persecution in Vietnam in the 1970s. They face deadly boat journeys and struggle to survive in a Malaysian refugee camp. But ultimately, they survive.
Matt is a successful illustrator who has been published in the New York Times and at the Sydney Opera House. He is a great example of how asylum seekers can contribute to our society if given the chance.
Refugees and asylum seekers in Australia are also producing their comics as part of the Refugee Art Project. You can see their work at therefugeeartproject.com