Nauru - Governments normalising racism while people suffer and die - "there is the smell of death here"
The veils and layers of racism are myriad – a trickle of humanity flees from persecution and horrific conditions, from civil strife, to our shores and Australian Governments react with racism, fall into the trap of justifying their racist actions, deeds and words and then normalise the racism and stereotype peoples.
I was in Sydney recently and per chance crossed paths with an inebriated Department of Immigration and Citizenship officer who works in the interviewing and assessment of visa applications to peoples and extended family members “from high risk countries” – and I never heard a more inadvertently racist person – does DIAC employ people in pursuit of some form of compliance? Similarly as SERCO within the lucrative network of Detention Centres they manage and operate they selectively employ people from impoverished or struggle street backgrounds and relatively low levels of education and I argue in fair comment with the express purpose of securing a certain unfettered compliance.
On October 14 a huge protest on Nauru followed a breakdown of communication between DIAC officials and detained Asylum Seekers. An angry engagement followed the next day when the DIAC officials allegedly took a very stand-offish position rather than respecting the basic rights of our Asylum Seekers.
Horrific statements by officials to Asylum Seekers such as they have the right to return to ‘where they came from’ should be prohibited – this is in conflict with the Migration Act and UN protocols and conventions we are party to as a nation, and it is coercion, discrimination and racism to proffer these hurtful and powerfully abusive statements.
Furthermore, no matter the subterfuge of our Government’s claims that Sri Lanka is ‘safe’ or that regions of Afghanistan are relatively safe – this is not so – Sri Lanka remains dangerous for Tamils and for anyone else its Government deems ‘subversive’ – including journalists. Afghanistan remains dangerous for people at all times – tell it otherwise to Malala or in terms of various persecution in Iran well let us remind ourselves of Soraya, or in terms of parts of Iraq and Pakistan let us remind ourselves of the continuing death toll from unnatural causes and civil strife.
On October 17 and 18 Asylum Seekers on Nauru broke down into protests, with near 300 Iranians, Iraqis, Afghanis and Tamils calling for processing of their applications to at long last commence rather than the incarcerating predicament that they are languishing within.
There are reports that Asylum Seekers are living squalid, in unhygienic conditions – they are being told to lump it or 'leave' – “to behave” – medical attention is not being flagged, well we are used to these reports from Detention Centres Australia-wide. There is the fear of an influenza outbreak in the tent camp prison at Nauru.
Conditions in the Nauru Detention camp are worse than ever before – a shanty town of tents, high density living in squalid conditions.
Mr Tony Abbott’s claim that under a Coalition Government Asylum Seekers detained at Nauru will be held for at least five years (in effect the equivalent of prescribed prison sentence), rest assured for some who will be expected to remain imprisoned five years in these conditions that it will be a death sentence. The Asylum Seekers know this.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s visit to Nauru decimated the spirits of the detained Asylum Seekers – he told them that it would be at least eight months before any personnel would arrive to begin processing their applications. Following this there was a suicide attempt. After Mr Bowen’s eight month minimum wait for claim processes to commence, our Asylum Seekers broke down and many feared it would be even longer. Some guards have allegedly told them that they believe it will be even longer and to prepare themselves "to be there for years.”
Thus far there have been half a dozen self-harms and two suicide attempts which DIAC should have the propriety to confirm.
Mr Abbott’s five year prison sentence threat shocked the detained Asylum Seekers. Word of this spread through the camp and generated dismay and angst and the call for protests – and this irresponsible threat by Mr Abbott will ensure a rise in self harms and suicide attempts.
The Nauru detained Asylum Seekers are breaking down from now – the conditions at this tent city prison are dissimilar to mainland Detention Centres where at least they are promised one thing after another, even if it is false hope or the buying of time, despite the evident horrific delays and languish. At Nauru they are being told straight from the beginning of their torment of their obvious incarceration and the horror wait, and while in the predicament of high density shanty town living conditions and deprivation strife conditions without essential goods and services.
Many of us were tragically correct with our warnings of detention centre deaths here on the mainland and I can assure if the Government and DIAC persist with the Nauru detention camp in its current state of affairs, and the ill-manner of various conduct by various layers of personnel and Departmental management, there will be more deaths alone at Nauru than there have been in all the Detention Centres combined Australia-wide.
Reports from Asylum Seekers on Nauru inform of ill health, limited medical attention, an aversion by personnel to flag medical attention, of sweaty tents, squalor, outbreaks of various illness, quarantine for the virulently ill. The conditions are worse than in yesteryear.
There will be trauma, multiple traumas, meltdowns into various depressions and various clinical disorders – acute and chronic. They need on site physicians, specialist health professionals, clinical psychologists and psychosocial counsellors.
The distress continues this very day, and protests by and large shall continue, and as expected under the banner of public relations public knowledge shall be suppressed where possible by DIAC - the news media filtered what it can report - till as such times riots are the last resort for the bastion of human hope. An en masse hunger strike is being considered to bring shine the international light on Australia's Nauru camp and on the Australian Government.
A letter is being drafted by Asylum Seekers to be passed on by them to the UNHCR complaining of the conditions and the maltreatment alleged at the camp. They live in the forlorn hope that the UNHCR can intervene.
Asylum Seekers detained at Nauru believe they will be there for years and many of them will die in the Nauru based camp.
Contaminant illnesses, outbreaks of diseases, grievous suffering, suicides and deaths, riots will be the by-product of our contemporary witness of racism – and packaged and branded by the Australian Government.
One Asylum Seeker said that he camp is reminiscent of the detention camps in the north-east of Sri Lanka, and “the smell of death is here and the same.”
Gerry Georgatos - 0430 657 309
PhD researcher Australian Custodial Systems & Australian Deaths in Custody
Human Rights Alliance convenor Gerry Georgatos called for a Senate inquiry into asylum seeker deaths at detention centres.
"These centres are inducing trauma, multiple trauma, self-harm, suicide and multiple suicide attempts, clinical disorders both acute and chronic," he said in a statement.
"Unless the commonwealth acts promptly with due regard to the rights of our asylum seekers we believe that there will be en masse riots, unnecessary suffering and trauma, and the loss of further lives."
THERE are concerns for the mental health of asylum seekers detained on Nauru's processing centre, after three men harmed themselves in the facility in as many days.
The Refugee Action Coalition has voiced shock at how quickly instances of attempted suicide and self-harm are occurring at the reopened offshore refugee processing centre on Nauru.
Australia has already sent more than 300 asylum seekers to Nauru.