They were seeking refuge, but instead their freedom has been further suppressed
Oslo Davis for Eaten Fish
Manus Island, an island detention center northeast of Papua New Guinea, is where Australia has been controversially sending refugees seeking asylum in the land Down Under. The island was originally pitched as part of the “Pacific Solution” in 2001, but has quickly become a nightmare for refugees ever since.
Once closed and then re-opened in 2011, Manus Island has been deemed torture by Amnesty International. Cases of abuse on the island are rampant. A 2015 animated short called “Nowhere Line ” depicted a brutal attack on detainees by police and guards that resulted in the death of detainee Reza Barati.
There’s no doubt that the conditions on the island are draconian. But a deal made by the Obama administration to have refugees transferred to the United States, now falls at the feet of President Donald Trump, who hasn’t been keen on the deal.
Eaten Fish, an award-winning Iranian cartoonist, is one such refugee from Iran who has found himself stranded on Manus Island. Despite winning the Cartoonist Rights International Network Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning in 2016, his application for asylum in Australia was rejected in December. Since then he has found himself deep in limbo, unable to go back to his home country for safety reasons, but never able to legally enter Australia. On top of his limbo status, Fish also battles obsessive-compulsive disorder, which has become so troubling he sometimes scrubs himself until he bleeds.
According to Fish’s blog, he’s been on hunger strike for the last 11 days, struggling to protest his treatment on Manus Island. Now, down to a mere 105lbs, the international community fears the worst.
Now, cartoonists around the world are using the hashtag #AddAFish on social media to shed a light on his plight and the fight for refugees on Manus Island.
Journalists and activists are not giving up on Fish and the other refugees stranded there. As Mashable reported, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance demanded the release of Fish as well as writer Medhi Savari and Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochan.
The journalism community knows all three of these talents can be productive contributors to Australia.
On February 3, MEAA CEO Paul Murphy spoke on the injustice being done to Fish and the others saying, "They each sought refuge from Iran so they could freely express themselves without fear of persecution or harm, but instead their freedom has been further suppressed in detention.” Check out a few more of the cartoons spreading Fish’s message on social media below.