offshore processing

“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.

Two important things were revealed when immigration minister Scott Morrison was finally forced to admit he had been wrong about most of the facts when one man was killed and at least 70 others were injured on Manus Island on February 16.

The first was that asylum seekers who rang and messaged advocates, supporters and friends in Australia in a panic over the outbreak of violence, saying that G4S security guards and angry locals were brutally attacking dozens of people, were telling the truth.

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.

The two big parties have long considered refugees’ rights forfeit. This election year has been a time of unprecedented sacrifice of refugees, as each “policy” idea from Labor and the Liberals becomes more extreme than the last.

After signing up Papua New Guinea and Nauru to bogus resettlement deals, PM Kevin Rudd has most recently sent families to Nauru and continues to oversee legally dubious deportations.

A possible malaria scare in the Manus Island refugee detention camp has sparked new calls to label the offshore detention regime a violation of human rights.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said on January 27 that a 10-year-old girl had been in the camp's medical centre with malaria-like symptoms — high fever, shivering and bodily pain.

A group of women asylum seekers share their reasons for seeking protection from Australia and their dismay and despair at being transferred to Manus Island. Their letters are reprinted below unedited.

***

Letter 1

I am a 33 years old Iranian woman and I have a son, nine years old. We had to leave Iran because of the personal hardship that I experienced there.

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.

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.
 

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."

***

Pages

Subscribe to offshore processing