Nauru refugees: ‘We have a right to be free and to know our future’

Refugees on Nauru protest their detention last September.
Friday, August 4, 2017

There have been numerous instances of human rights abuses since the Nauru detention centre was reopened in 2013 and then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that no refugee who arrived by boat would ever be settled in Australia.

The Guardian’s Nauru Files gave detailed accounts of children being assaulted, women sexually abused by guards and suicide attempts being laughed at.

In March last year, people in the Nauru detention centre began a daily protest that lasted for 240 days.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the US refugee deal in November last year. But since then no one detained in Nauru or Manus Island has being offered protection in the US and the US has already filled its annual refugee quota.

The following statement was released on July 31 by refugees detained on Nauru.

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We have waited long enough! We have a right to be free and to know our future!

We were tricked into being transferred to Nauru from Christmas Island, promised we would be freed quickly if we followed the rules. Those who remained on Christmas Island are now in Australia.

Some of us have children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and family in Australia. Our families are heartbroken and devastated from the separation.

We stopped protesting in November 2016, when the Prime Minister promised to free us and allow us to go to USA.

We felt the life come back into our blood with just a tiny bit of hope and thought of freedom. We are still not free nine months later!

We are more tormented than ever because we were tantalised with a glimpse, and then slowly let down, yet again. We have been imprisoned for four years on Nauru. We are punished for our patience and good will.

If Australia won't take us, we accept that. Let us go to a country who wants us. New Zealand wants us. Let us go there, so we can be good loyal citizens and contribute to the community and build our future. We are good people. We just want freedom in a country where we belong.

ABF [Australian Border Force], you say Nauru is responsible for us, but you make all of the decisions. For Nauru, we are a commodity in a ruined economy. Why do you want to punish us and hold us prisoners in a place where we are simply a means for people to earn an income, because their land was destroyed by your greed?

We are human, we want to be responsible for our own lives. We cannot take this anymore, the lies and false promises are killing us and destroying our minds and souls.

People are still living like animals in the camps. The conditions have made everyone sick. The mould is toxic and dangerous. ABF, you know it is a danger to our health because you had experts from Australia come to Nauru to test it. The experts stated that you are in breach of your duty of care if we remain living, or dying, in these conditions. We have the full report!

We were promised safe accommodation in the community when we became refugees. Many refugees are still in the camp, denied phones with cameras, denied bringing in food and things you think is contraband. We are not free! We live under strict, high security detention control, robbed of our civil liberties because you have nowhere else for us to live.

ABF, you say it is the Nauru government's responsibility to provide housing. The Nauru government says: “We asked Australia for money to rent the places, it is their responsibility”. Let us be free so we can be responsible for ourselves. We try to talk with ABF and meet to discuss our future, your plan for us, but no one ever comes. You leave us to rot, with no information, with no hope, with no future and with no freedom!

We formally request that we be EVALUATED NOW!

Please give us amnesty and let us go to New Zealand. Let the separated families reunite and please have some compassion for us.

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