Refugee Graveyard

“The refugee crisis isn’t about refugees. It’s about us.”

- Ai Weiwei

“The impact of seeing all... of these needless deaths in the one place is hugely powerful.
It is possible for these people's lives to be reduced to mere statistics... [but] these were
people with hopes and dreams... having survived persecution, having managed to reach Australia by boat,
they were killed by a regime in the very place where they should have finally been safe.”

- Ben Doherty (Guardian, Australia)

This is a virtual graveyard for the refugees who have died in detention, whilst trying to start a new life in Australia.

Some don’t even have documented names.

Some have been kept in offshore camps on Australia’s Christmas Island territory in the Indian Ocean; on PNG’s Manus Island and on the Pacific island of Nauru.

Many had already survived the horrors of persecution, torture and war in their own countries before they came here.

Yet they killed themselves in Australia, or in Australian-sponsored prisons.

These people were kept in indefinite detention (in basic no-advantage conditions, often in tents in intense heat).

This is because they have fled persecution by boat, and not come through official channels that can take years.

Limbo and absence of hope kills people: If you’ve been in covid isolation, you may have noticed that after a few days you started to get lethargic and lose motivation. Now imagine, your isolation stretching to weeks, months, years… with no end in sight.

And these graves only represent the people who have died here in Australian detention, there were others who died at home after they were deported – often due to the very persecution they had been fleeing.

While I was putting this Graveyard together, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight... more refugees died.

Sources: Australian Border Deaths Database (Monash education), Guardian Australia, ABC, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Buzzfeed, Saturday Paper, Perth Now, Hazara Asylum Seekers, Wordpress,,, Law Institute of Victoria, The Monthly, State Coroner's Court report WA, Elisabeth Wynhausen site,

To the best of my knowledge, this information is correct, but it is provided as a guide. I cannot guarantee accuracy or be held responsible for mistakes or omissions.

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All text and images copyright 2010-17 Amy Spurling unless otherwise noted