Australia’s shame

By   /   December 1, 2016  /   10 Comments

TDB recommends Voyager - Unlimited internet @home as fast as you can get

We think of human rights abuses occurring in far off places. But 4000 km to the North is a country that has been taken over as a prison. There are 1200 people held against their will. They were sent there for six months to processing their applications for refugee status. Three years later, they are trapped on Nauru in despair.

5681248-3x2-340x227

We think of human rights abuses occurring in far off places. But 4000 km to the North is a country that has been taken over as a prison. There are 1200 people held against their will. They were sent there for six months to processing their applications for refugee status. Three years later, they are trapped on Nauru in despair.

Anna Neistat is the Research Director of Amnesty International. She has travelled around the world to some of the most dangerous conflict zones around the world – places where human rights are an alien concept. She undertook an investigation into refugees trapped in Nauru and was shocked: “Having worked in most of the world’s conflict zones over the last 15 years, I thought I had learned enough about suffering, injustice and despair. But what I saw and heard on Nauru will haunt me forever.”

She was able to get insights to conditions that most  of us can’t imagine. As she said at a recent meeting in Parliament, she has never seen such mental trauma in a war zone. Adults and youth were held in limbo with no clarity about their future, suffering from physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse. She heard from refugees who have attempted suicide, those committing self harm and many suffering from untreated illnesses and conditions such as diabetes. There have been hunger strikes and riots, but conditions in Nauru remain dire.

Their crime? They have fled war, torture and abusive governments. They braved arduous and dangerous journeys in search of a safe haven. Their mistake was that they wanted to go to Australia to build a better life for themselves and their families. Many of the detainees were sent back to dangerous conditions in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts. The asylum seekers accepted as legitimate refugees are now trapped on Nauru.

How is the Australian government able to get away with such gross human rights abuses? Anna Neistat says she has never seen such a sustained – and successful – effort to hide abuse from the outside world. Nauru charges journalists A$8,000 to apply for a visa, and the costs are non-refundable. Almost all applications are declined. Staff working in Nauru have contracts requiring secrecy. Under Australian law, service providers face two years in jail if they reveal anything about the situation in Nauru

Surely New Zealand should use our political influence to demand respect for human rights, but that’s not what this government does. Their foreign policy has been reduced to asking for free trade agreements. And when it gets difficult, as in the case of McCully’s sheep deal with Saudi Arabia, a payment is made. In most cases, paying a wealthy individual $11.5 million to get an agreement with a government would be called a bribe, but not according to New Zealand’s Attorney-General.

This government doesn’t care about human rights, at home or abroad. Nor does Australia’s government. Speak out to support refugees in Nauru.

Barry Coates is a Green Party list MP, based in Auckland.

***
Want to support this work? Donate today
***
Follow us on Twitter & Facebook
***

10 Comments

  1. david says:

    These asylum seekers have free education and healthcare and don’t need to work. Albeit an island prison. Just the socialist paradise, Cuba.

    These misguided people want to go a horrible neoliberal capitalist hellhole of a country, Australia. They are in Cuba like paradise conditions already….. ungrateful.

  2. Brigid says:

    This is a very telling account of what life on Nauru is like.
    Paul Stevenson’s act of conscience: exposing Australia’s detention centres on Nauru.

    http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-paul-stevenson/7999406

    Paul is a psychologist specialising in the field of trauma and its associated conditions.

    He’s worked all over the world, with survivors of natural and man-made disasters including: the Bali Bombings, the Port Arthur Massacre, the Queensland Floods, and Indian Ocean Tsunami.

    Paul has been awarded an Order of Australia, and a United Nations Award for his services to disaster management.

    In 2015 and 2016, Paul was employed to work within the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s regional processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

    For just over a year he provided psychological assistance to contracted Australian, New Zealand, and Nauruan security officers.

    For all workers, employment on Nauru is contingent on not publicly disclosing any information about the camps.

    However, toward the end of his time in the job, Paul provided a dossier of 2000 confidential incident reports from Nauru, to the Guardian Australia news website.

    These formed the basis of what is now collectively known as ‘The Nauru Files’.

  3. Brigid says:

    This is a very telling account of what life on Nauru is like.
    Paul Stevenson’s act of conscience: exposing Australia’s detention centres on Nauru.

    http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/conversations-paul-stevenson/7999406

    Paul is a psychologist specialising in the field of trauma and its associated conditions.

    He’s worked all over the world, with survivors of natural and man-made disasters including: the Bali Bombings, the Port Arthur Massacre, the Queensland Floods, and Indian Ocean Tsunami.

    Paul has been awarded an Order of Australia, and a United Nations Award for his services to disaster management.

    In 2015 and 2016, Paul was employed to work within the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s regional processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

    For just over a year he provided psychological assistance to contracted Australian, New Zealand, and Nauruan security officers.

    For all workers, employment on Nauru is contingent on not publicly disclosing any information about the camps.

    However, toward the end of his time in the job, Paul provided a dossier of 2000 confidential incident reports from Nauru, to the Guardian Australia news website.

    These formed the basis of what is now collectively known as ‘The Nauru Files’.

  4. save NZ says:

    Spot on Barry Coates!!!

  5. Chris says:

    Moves should be put in place to start generating support for a complete sporting boycott of Australia until this situation stops. That’s the only way to do it because that’s the only thing Australians care about. The Australian public is the only group that can pressure the Australian government government to fix this and a sporting boycott is the only thing that can hurt them.

  6. dave says:

    Who cares about the people on Nauru? Not me.

    • Andrea says:

      Well, that’s nice to know. How about getting a T-shirt printed up – or would that be too scary?

      You don’t have to ‘care’, as such. Simply stop enabling others to be ‘inglorious’. You know it’s the Right thing to do. 😛

  7. andrew says:

    “There are 1200 people held against their will”

    Nope, sorry, that’s incorrect.

    They can go home any time they like.

    • Andrea says:

      Here, little troll. Here’s a snippet from ATL: “The asylum seekers accepted as legitimate refugees are now trapped on Nauru.”

      This bit: “accepted as legitimate refugees”

      Game over.

      Open the door to the ‘lucky country’ and its 47C heatwaves and let these folk in. And provide the long-term counselling care they will now need.

      PS although you carry a saint’s name, your words in the world don’t quite match. Have you considered trading it in for something more, well, congruent? How about Ishmael?

      • andrew says:

        Your snippet would be valid if it came with a link and if it was a ruling of law, not the opinion of some lame journalist or activist.

        We sit here with thousands of miles of cold ocean around us in the knowledge that boat people aren’t going to get here (until they start hijacking ships). So be careful with that hypocrisy!

        The current Australian policy is highly popular among voters so I expect no change any time soon. It’s popular because they recognise there are HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of would-be immigrants north of a short stretch of water who would pile into boats and head to Aussie if they softened their stance.