Cartoon by Rod Emmerson @rodemmerson. Auckland (New Zealand)
“Eaten Fish” is the alias of a 24-year-old Iranian cartoonist named Ali, who has been detained in the Manus Island camp for three years.
Under Australian law, anyone caught trying to reach the country by boat will end up in these camps on Nauru Island in the Central Pacific, 4,000km away, or on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, 3,000km from Melbourne.
The Australian government cynically calls them “detention centres for asylum seekers” and, as it has already assured, under no circumstances will they be allowed to settle in Australia. So “asylum seekers” is a joke.
They are locked up in shitty conditions without knowing any date for anything and they are crammed in for months or years. And they stay there indefinitely. One of the many problems detainees face is the lack of mental health care.
Photo: RAC Victoria
In 2016, The Guardian uncovered the subhuman conditions of detainees on Nauru by publishing 2 ,000 leaked reports of various human rights violations committed by security staff at the centre between 2013 and 2015.
Free The Children Nauru
Cartoonists call for help for “Eaten Fish”
In July 2016, Australian cartoonists came together to call for help for the Iranian artist and created this website . It calls for him to be taken to a safe place where he can receive specialised treatment for his illnesses.
Ali, who suffers from OCD and PTSD, was sexually assaulted in January and since then has been subjected to sexual harassment by guards, other staff and some detainees. This has been exacerbating his severe mental health problems.
“Eaten Fish, who was under 24-hour surveillance and held in the Green Zone (solitary confinement) of the detention camp, said that the harassment did not stop and that his health continued to deteriorate
On Saturday 27 August 2016, CRNI (Cartoon Rights Network International) announced that it was awarding the “Courage in Editorial Cartooning for 2016” award to “Eaten Fish”.
Ali is not the first cartoonist to be held in Australian detention centres.
Mahmoud Salameh is a Palestinian refugee from Syria who was held in Australian detention camps for 17 months.
Salameh, a Sydney-based cartoonist and graphic designer, works for Syria, Lebanon and Australia, as well as for Arab newspapers and magazines such as Al Safir and Al Adaab.
September 2016. One of the many protests at the entrance to the Nauru camp. Photo: RAC Victoria
Protest outside the Australian embassy in London
On Thursday 30 March 2017 a protest event was held in London, (rally) in front of the High Commission of Australia (consulate and embassy) organised by Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) (EUU) and the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (PCO) (UK) under the call to “Save Eaten Fish” to call on the Australian government to get Eaten Fish to safety. (Capture event on FB
Rally 30 March in London. Photos: Banx
Ali’s story is just one of the 800 unknown stories of the refugees facing an uncertain future with the closure of the Manus camp.
Behrouz Boochani, 33, is a Kurdish journalist who has worked for several Iranian newspapers . He left Iran because of his political views. On 17 February 2013, members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ransacked his offices in Ilam and arrested 11 of Boochani’s colleagues. Six of them were imprisoned.
Mehdi Savari, 31, is an Ahwazi Arab actor who fled Iran, working with various theatre groups and performing in public places across the country. He is also known for having hosted a children’s television programme.
On 31 January 2017, Ali “Eaten Fish” went on hunger strike. Several organisations, such as ProCartoonists.org (UK professional cartoonists) mobilised their authors to draw in solidarity with Eaten Fish.
I’m going to start eating and end the protest. I wanted to continue, but the hunger strike is turning into something else that I don’t want to happen. I’ve gone crazy and I want to kill myself, I can’t stop thinking about killing myself. I don’t want to kill myself, but I can’t stop my thoughts, I’m afraid that I will kill myself before the hunger strike does.
I need security… protection… I don’t want to die. I only weigh 46 kilos now, I don’t want to be made to suffer any more. I need help and I need safety and I need proper treatment. I need security and peace more than food, I need my rights and security, I need protection.
Photo: Christina Coombe
Australia has already announced that it will close the Manus camp where some 800 people are still being held, but not on its own initiative. In April 2016, the Papua High Court declared the camp illegal. The Nauru camp will remain open.
However, no one knows the date of closure or the fate of the Syrian, Iranian, Pakistani and Afghan detainees held in Manus.
Spain has the honour of being linked to these places, as the Manus and Nauru centres are managed by the Australian company Broadspectrum, which has belonged to the Spanish construction company Ferrovial since May 2016
In April 2016, Ferrovial announced that “these activities will not form part of Brodspectrum’s service offering in the future”. I do not know if this has finally been the case. (Press release -PDF)
5/04/2107, rally in front of the Ferrovial shareholders’ meeting. Photo: Amnesty International
5 April 2017. Amnesty International enters Ferrovial’s shareholder meeting to denounce its complicity in the abuse of refugees on Nauru. Campaign
Update December 2017
On 16 December 2017, Ali Durani, “Eaten Fish”, left Papua New Guinea and is now in a safe city in Europe where he will live for at least two years thanks to the ICORN programme. Read more