Salvation Army restricts internet for refugees on Nauru

December 9, 2012
Refugees on Nauru have told campaigners their internet use is being monitored.

The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) is calling for people to sign a petition to reinstate internet access for refugees on Nauru.

They released a statement on December 6 that said: “The Salvation Army administration has come under fire for drastically reducing the time allowed for an appointed representative, Mahdi, to maintain the Nauru asylum seekers Facebook page and website.

“The Facebook page in particular has been an innovative life-line between asylum seekers trapped in the hell-hole of Nauru and the outside world. Asylum seekers regard the Salvation Army’s cutting of internet access as a move to side with Australian immigration to silence critics of Nauru detention and of the Salvation Army’s role in the camp.

“There are only eight computers for almost 400 asylum seekers in the camp, and they will now be rostered to 30 minutes every second day.

“The ability of asylum seekers to swap time has also been stopped. Swapping time slots has been a crucial way in which asylum seekers can find a time that best suits them to call their families in home countries.

“The reduction has brought an angry response from the asylum seekers. More than 200 — over half — of the asylum seekers have signed a letter to the Salvation Army to restore Mahdi’s access to the internet. Mass protests are planned unless the Salvation Army restores Madhi’s access to the internet and the flexible arrangements that will allow them to swap rostered times.”

A day later RAC received news the Salvation Army was now monitoring individuals use of the internet.

“The Salvation Army bosses of the computer room are calling security guards to the room to monitor the internet use by some of the asylum seekers regarded as ringleaders.
‘The security guard sits behind me watching what I am doing and writing it down,’ one asylum seeker said.

“The Nauru asylum seekers have already given the Salvation Army a protest letter signed by a majority of the Nauru detainees. ‘Until now, we have no response,’ one of the signatories told RAC, ‘We will give them another day or two to respond to our letter and we will protest.’

“The Salvation Army’s attack on the use of the internet has drawn criticism from other sections of the Salvos. It seems that the contract for the Nauru and Manus Island detention centre is held by the Australia Eastern Territory Salvation Army. The section that covers Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia is critical of the Pacific Solution and the role of the Army in the Nauru detention centre.”

Sign the petition: Stop internet restrictions on Nauru asylum seekers.

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