Nauru independence celebration overshadowed by prison island’s neglect and abuse

| January 31, 2018 | Reply

Independence celebrations on Nauru

Today, 31 January, marks the high point of independence celebrations on Nauru (see photos).

Curiously the celebrations have been marked by the government lifting the ban on Facebook that was imposed in 2015, as part of the crackdown on democratic rights that also removed the right to protest, when hundreds of asylum seekers began to protest against their improsnment in Nauru.

Nauru is now known internationally for the human rights abuses perpetrated on the island. Sexual assault, bashings, routine robberies of asylum seekers and refugees are ignored by the police force.

An Iranian refugee bashed by local Nauruans on 11 January

The celebrations of “independence” are overshadowed by Nauru’s role as a jailer for the Australian government. With the phosphate resources almost completely depleted, Nauru was vulnerable to the millions of dollars offered by Australia to maintain Nauru as as offshore detention centre; money on which it is now dependent.

Nauru lost its independence when it allowed itself to be subordinated to the decisions of Australia’s Border Force. Nauru has been unable to respond to the New Zealand government’s offer to take refugees, because Australia is the gate-keeper, preventing any arrangements being made between Nauru and New Zealand.

Even HOST International, contracted to provide services to refugees in the Nauru community, has been drawn into the celebrations with precious welfare dollars being spent catering for various independence events, often for the Nauruan elite.

The “Location” the ghetto area of the island

Nauru’s celebrations are overshadowed by the stark contrast between the celebrations and the conditions on the island for both poor Nauruans and the asylum seekers and refugees that are held on the proson island – some still living in tents after four and half years.

There are many children on Nauru who cannot get the medical help they need because it is not available on Nauru and Border Force obstructs recommendations that they travel to Australia for treatment.

Many families have been separated – fathers from their partners and new babies; brothers from sisters and mothers – by deliberate government policy.

“Ending offshore detention would be a genuine step to Nauru regaining its independence, and freeing itself from the stain of its culpability for human rights abuses,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees face being left behind on Nauru regardless of the US deal. Unless the asylum seekers and refugees are brought to Australia, Nauru’s future will be blighted by its role as a prison island for Australia.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

The maternity ward at the RON hospital (for both Nauruans and refugees)

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