Protests to stop forced transfers to Nauru


Melbourne rally to return baby Asha on June 25. Photo ASRC/Facebook

The campaign to bring back baby "Asha" (not her real name) from Nauru is gaining momentum. The five-month-old baby girl, her mother and father were forcibly transported from Melbourne's detention centre to Darwin detention centre and then to Nauru in early June.

At 2am on June 24 about 40 men, women and children were removed from the Wickham Point Detention centre near Darwin. Three babies were among those removed.

The Department of Immigration’s Emergency Response Team took asylum seekers by force to a restricted area from where they were transferred to Nauru. Handcuffs were used in the transfer.

Some of the women who were removed had disclosed sexual assault on Nauru, only to be told by the Australian Federal Police that their claims would be investigated on Nauru. They have now been transferred into the custody of those they accuse of assaulting them.

Some of the people transferred had complaints before the Australian Human Rights Commission regarding their treatment in detention. The Department has confirmed that human rights commission complaints will not stop a transfer.

Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) says that this is a violation of procedural fairness rules ingrained in the Australian common law system.

The federal government has still not implemented all of the recommendations of the Moss Review, and media reports show that sexual, emotional and physical abuse are ongoing in Australia’s offshore detention network.

“Instead of fixing the problems, the government has simply banned people from speaking about the deplorable conditions it detains people in,” said DASSAAN spokesperson Ben Pynt.

Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre said: “The government is fully aware of how terrible the conditions are on Nauru and has known this for a long time. Sending babies to Nauru — against the advice of welfare providers on the island — is irresponsible and incredibly cruel. We need to stand together against this cruelty and give these babies a voice."

Socialist Alliance national co-convener and refugee activist Susan Price said: "No asylum seeker should be in detention, onshore or offshore, child or adult. We need to continue to build the protest movement to stop these transfers, close Nauru and Manus Island, and end mandatory detention."

The ASRC has called two rallies to oppose the transfers. The first was in Melbourne in Federation Square on June 25, and the second will be at Sydney Town Hall at 5.30pm on June 30.

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