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ACTIVIST asylum seekers on Manus Island claiming their life is hell have taken holidays at an idyllic island and posed for tourist photos akin to a boisterous buck’s weekend.
And in an embarrassing blow to left-leaning protest group GetUp!, the face of its new campaign to bring asylum seekers to Australia is one of the wayfarers.
Exclusively obtained by The Courier-Mail, “Ben” poses in a number of photos with his iphone headphones and jewellery, wrestling with his mates and sipping coconut milk from straws.
Ben’s real name is Behnam Moghimi Kivaj. He is from Iran and has formed a close-knit group of friends, including Nouhad Al Aboudi from Iraq, Zubio Kham Orakzai from Pakistan and Walid Zazai, who all tried to get to Australia by boat and have been detained in PNG for up to four years.
Recently they made another boat trip, this time to a nearby island off Manus for a “two-day holiday”.
Shirtless, looking bronzed and frolicking in clear blue waters, Ben and his mates hammed it up for the camera. In one photo they buried one their mates, Imran Khan, in sand.
His mate Walid Zazai, an asylum seeker with designer stubble and gold-rimmed, aviator sunglasses and an on-trend white shirt, later posted on Facebook about their trip in May.
“I had a lovely 2 days holidays with my lovely, cute, beautiful and best ever friends.”
Their posts about the trip include, “drinking coconut water…yumm” and “what a pleasant time hanging with friends”.
After the trip, they returned to Manus Island and have ramped up their campaign against the Turnbull Government and the detention centre, which will be bulldozed by the end of October.
In the GetUp! ad, which started running on TV stations and You Tube on Sunday, Ben says, “I’m asking for an SOS.
“Malcolm Turnbull you know PNG is not safe. You know Nauru is not safe. You need to evacuate us.”
Their own Facebook pages accuse Immigration Minister Peter Dutton of having blood on his hands, and demand the detention centres — where they are free to go — be closed.
They will have the option of resettling in PNG, returning home or possibly resettling in the US.
Ironically, now the detention centre will be closed, Walid Zazai, does not want to leave, and posted on Facebook just days ago: “I’m losing myself to these harsh policies. It’s eating me from the inside slowly slowly. Australian immigration want to dump us in PNG where we aren’t safe.”
Nationals senator Barry O’Sullivan, a former Queensland police officer, said the pictures provided a different story to those told by activists and the Human Rights Commission.
“The pictures show people living in quite idyllic locations,” he said.
“I’m not pretending it’s Club Med… but these people aren’t in chains (as some activits like to portray).
“They are not under stress or trauma,’’ he said, referring to the images.
GetUp! has long protested against regional processing detention centres, which they describe as “expensive, harmful and heartless experiments — and yet, they remain open, and supported by our major parties”.