As a mother and her baby fight to avoid the “rat-infested” Nauru refugee camp, a Fairfax-Nielsen poll showed half of Australian voters disapprove of the Coalition government's refugee policy. The poll also showed Prime Minister Tony Abbott has come to the end of what has been described as the shortest “honeymoon period” of a PM in history. Abbott's popularity took an unprecedented dive — with a personal approval rating of 1%, believed to be fuelled by his attitude to the “diplomatic stand-off” with Indonesia over substantial spying allegations.
Seven Iranian families — comprising 14 adults and 12 children — were sent to Nauru’s detention camp on August 21. Immigration minister Tony Burke said the children were aged between five and 15. He said more families would be sent to the island and “before long” unaccompanied minors would also face possible removal from Australia to Nauru. The Refugee Action Coalition released the statement below on August 21. *** The Refugee Action Coalition has condemned the Labor government’s transfer of asylum seeker families to Nauru.
Nauru's terrible poverty, stagnant economy and unstable administration has paved the way for its main aid-provider, the Australian government, to sign it up for a similar refugee “deal” as Papua New Guinea. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that refugees who arrived in Australia by boat could be sent for processing and then would “settle and reside” on Nauru.
The Refugee Action Coalition released the statement below on March 13. The day before, ABC Online said five asylum seekers had escaped the centre, but were returned quickly. *** The Nauru Director of the Department of Immigration has told a meeting of asylum seekers in the Nauru detention camp that their refugee assessments will begin “in about 10 days” [on March 18]. The initial refugee assessments are expected to be finalised in about six months.
This statement was released by the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition on November 24. *** Nauru asylum seekers have renewed their hunger strike protest after rejecting the Nauru Foreign Minister’s proposal to begin initial interviews for the asylum seekers. More than 40 people in the last two days have joined the hunger strike from all the nationalities represented on Nauru — Iranian, Iraqi, Pakistani, Afghan and Sri Lankan.
Labor is making a full-scale assault on the right of refugees to seek protection, as it continues to fill the Nauru detention camp, forcibly deport hundreds back to Sri Lanka before hearing their claims for asylum and keep thousands in perpetual limbo in the name of “deterrence”. Now, the federal government has revealed its plans for the almost 8000 people that have arrived seeking asylum by boat in recent months. The plan is worse than the extreme temporary protection visas introduced by the former John Howard Government.
The Iranian asylum seeker who has maintained a 36-day hunger strike was admitted to hospital last night after he began excreting blood, the Refugee Action Coalition said. Ian Rintoul from RAC said: “The Minister says he opened Nauru because he was concerned about the loss of life at sea. He literally holds the power of life or death of at least one asylum seeker on Nauru. Is he going to turn a blind eye to one life that he could save?”
An Iranian man known as Omid, who is held in the Nauru detention camp, has been on hunger strike for 33 days. Refugees said medical staff had told Omid his kidneys and brain were going to fail and he would be moved to hospital “in the coming days”. The rest of the group decided to end their 13-day hunger strike this morning, said, after Amnesty International said it would visit the island on a fact-finding mission next week.
This month is the start of the wet season on the tiny island of Nauru, where more than 370 refugees are being detained in Australian army tents that leak and do nothing to keep mosquitoes out. In these appalling conditions, more than 300 men are refusing food and some are refusing water in a bid to have the department of immigration hear their claims for asylum. That’s right — people that came to Australia exercising their legal and moral right to seek protection are on a hunger strike because the Australian government has decided to make an example of them.
Asylum seekers imprisoned on Nauru released the statement below on November 5. The asylum seekers are currently on hunger strike, demanding that the Australian government process their claims for refugee status. * * * Today, dated 5/11/2012, we all asylum seekers in Nauru Hell are on hunger strikes. Today is our 5th day of hunger strike, and this is very clear from our hunger strike that in which conditions we are.
The refugees now holding an indefinite hunger strike in the Nauru detention camp released the statement below on November 2, updating the situation and explaining that several have been taken to the medical room and some have lost conciousness. The first refugees began refusing food on the morning of November 1, and others quickly joined. *** Date:02/11/2012 Time:11:00 pm Fifteen Asylum seekers became unconscious on second day of Hunger Strike in Nauru Hell. Till 7 asylum seekers have been become unconscious and taken to the medical rooms.
The following “Appeal of asylum seekers” was released by refugees on Nauru on October 31. It was addressed to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australian MPs, the Nauru government, human rights commissions and the “rest of the world”. The men said on November 1 that they would begin a group hunger strike "for unknown time". "This is a clear message that we are not happy here, we want to go back from this Hell to Australia and we request to the Australia government to start our processing." ***
The statement below was released by the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition on October 31. *** At 6.00pm Nauruan time, an Iranian asylum seeker attempted to hang himself from a light pole inside the detention centre. The man jumped from the pole with a sheet around his neck but was other asylum seekers quickly took his weight. Asylum seekers had gathered around the pole appealing with the man, who was on the pole for around 15 minutes before he jumped. He was crying and saying, “I want to die,” and “I am tired of my life”.
Refugees held in indefinite detention on Nauru shared the following letter on their Facebook page on October 26. They addressed it to human rights commissioners, communities of oppressed people and “world independent news channels”. It has been published with minimal edits. ***