More lip-stitching as protests on Nauru escalate

| February 21, 2013 | Reply

Asylum seekers on Nauru are now on their fourth day of a sustained protest, according to information supplied this evening to the Refugee Action Coalition Sydney (RAC) from inside the Nauru camp.

Seven detainees have now stitched their lips and have retreated inside their tents.

A protest of more than 100 people continued in the detention camp this afternoon. This is 30 more people than were involved previously. Detainees are chanting ‘Don’t kill refugees’, ‘We are not criminals’ and ‘Close Nauru’, and have written these words on t-shirts. Similar protest activities will continue tomorrow.

These events are the latest in months of unrest on the island. There were five suicide attempts in early February, followed by an escape of five detainees earlier this week. October to December of last year saw protracted individual and mass hunger-strikes, suicide attempts and general chaos.

“Nauru must be closed immediately,” said RAC spokesperson Nick Riemer. “Brendan O’Connor has said he doesn’t want to see people losing their lives at sea. But what of the lives of the detainees on Nauru and Manus Island? Offshore processing has failed as a deterrent as it was always going to. People are coming on boats in greater numbers than ever before. The only purpose served by keeping people in the Pacific is to harm them further. We will see more suicides, more tragic self-mutilation and more lasting psychological trauma until the government brings all the detainees to Australia.’

“Lip-stitching was a shocking feature of the darkest years of Howard’s Pacific Solution,” Riemer continued. “A decade later, we’re right back where we started. What needs to happen to get the government and opposition to end this madness? The conditions simply don’t exist on Nauru for humane refugee processing, as both Amnesty and UNHCR have said. The medical centre can’t even cope with perfectly normal health problems, let alone the kinds of things we’re seeing now.”

“The only place the right conditions exist is Australia. Nauru and Manus refugees should be sent back to the mainland and allowed to live in the community, just as thousands of other refugees are already doing. Otherwise the humanitarian crisis on Nauru will roll on, leaving its trail of destruction behind it. How many self-mutilations, suicides and broken lives is the government prepared to accept? How many people are to be sacrificed just for asking Australia for its help?”

More information: Nick Riemer 0435 53 027


Category: Press releases

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