Nauru

Refugees on Nauru have defied government and police attempts to ban protesting, as the United Nations adds to the growing body of evidence that Australia's asylum policy is violating human rights.

The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) said 300 refugees held a peaceful protest on March 11, “just one week after Nauruan police staged mass arrests on the island in a bid to stifle the campaign of non-cooperation being waged by the refugees”.

“We will not be treated like slaves,” a refugee forced to live on Nauru said during a series of public protests held by refugees on the island.

Hundreds of refugees living in the community, alongside asylum seekers still held in detention camps, have been holding a campaign of non-cooperation and protest since February 25. Children have boycotted class, refugees with jobs have begun a stay-away strike and many are refusing to talk to their case mangers.

The decision to deny 11-month-old Ferouz Myuddin a protection visa precedes a plan by Tony Abbott’s government to retrospectively deny all babies born to asylum seekers the right to seek refugee status.

An amendment bill containing extensive changes to the Migration Act was tabled by the federal government last month. The bill would remove most references to the refugee convention and legalise boat turnarounds.

The Coalition government also wants all babies born to asylum seekers who arrived by boat after August 13, 2012 to be declared “unauthorised maritime arrivals”.

More than half a million Iraqis have been displaced and hundreds killed after the fall of Iraq's second largest city of Mosul to Islamic fundamentalists. But even as the crisis in Iraq dramatically worsens, Australia is refusing to offer any reprieve for the thousands of Iraqi refugees in its care.

World Refugee Day is dedicated each year to raising awareness about the more than 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. The United Nations and non-government organisations usually share refugee stories and make pleas for compassion and empathy.

But in Australia, refugees and asylum seekers are treated like the enemy in a war: the target of a highly resourced, military-led “deterrence” strategy complete with arbitrary detainment, detention camps, guards to terrorise them, forced deportations and the violent suppression of those who protest.

The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released this statement on April 16.

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An outbreak of dengue fever has hit Nauru, raising concerns for the short-term and long-term heath and welfare of asylum seekers being held on the island.

At least three people (staff and detainees) have been confirmed suffering dengue fever. Another 12 cases are presently confirmed in the Nauruan population by a spokesperson for the Nauru general hospital.

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.

Nauru camp detainees have made allegations of brutal beatings by security guards, as newly leaked documents from the Salvation Army detailed the early “chaos” of the camp.

A protest of recent arrivals that began on June 25 was met with a violent crackdown by guards that reportedly left six Palestinian men unconscious.

The protesters were mostly Palestinian, Sudanese and Lebanese refugees. They had just learned from Australian officials that assessment of their claims for protection would be delayed.

As asylum seekers face years of detention in the Nauru and Manus Island detention camps, where not a single claim has been assessed, the Australian government refuses to answer to scrutiny or calls for human rights oversight.

The ABC’s Four Corners and SBS’s Dateline have now tried to investigate the conditions inside each “regional processing centre”. The camps are believed to be abysmal, inadequate and places of widespread physical and psychological breakdown among detainees.

The smuggling of cameras inside detention camps on Nauru and Manus Island by the ABC's Four Corners has added to pressure on Labor to answer for the shocking conditions in which men, women and children are being held.

Footage that was aired on April 29 showed rows of muddy tents, derelict amenities and ablution facilities and image after image of people who are losing the will to live.

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