Tampa Refugees On Hunger Strike In Nauru
Editor’s caution: Some images may disturb.
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Children from the Tampa, held indefinitely at the Nauru Detention Centre.
Tampa refugees on Hunger-strike in the Nauru Detention Centre.
By Elaine Smith
As I begin my nightly conversation with a detainee on Nauru, I look at the clock 11.43pm 24.12.2003 He tells me there are still 40 on the hunger strike, 11 of whom are in hospital.
Day by day the condition of the hunger strikers grows worse.. Most have kidney problems, pain in their kidneys. Some are not coming back from the hospital because their condition is serious eg Jarnil and Raja.
Others go and come more than once.. The doctor insists they they should eat and drink. "We don't have any other treatment"' he says. The people say 'No'
The only water they take comes through the drip. They take nothing by mouth. The doctor tells them that when they feel pain, the treatment is food. Pain killing injections will not work.
Most of the hunger strikers are lying on the verandah, their faces bloodless. Those that have had the drip recently are strong enough the go from the veranda to get fresh air. Others are not able to move.
"IOM gave us a letter today from UNHCR" " he says, they want to review a few cases, I think it is the few people who still remain from the Tampa. Cy Winter ,the IOM Chief of staff said " I have brought good news. I don't see any happiness in your faces. The people answered, "They have told us many lie in the past. Even if they say the truth we think it is unbelievable. We can't tell if they say the truth or not.. We will know then we get our freedom.".
"It is not good enough that they will interview us again. They may interview and then accept very few people. We think it is like a trick. Until we see the proof, until we have our freedom"
There was no one from DIMIA in the camp today.
The women continue their vigil, Today they said to Cy "If you don"t accept the men, then we women will begin the hunger strike, I ask what will happen to the children, They say they will give them to IOM to look after. My watch now says 12.09 am, 25th.12.2003,
"On behalf of all the detainees we want to say thank you to the helpers for all your hard work. We want you to have a happy time with your families., Happy Christmas."
by Elaine Smith
It is not what you expect from a nine year old. “If I go back to Afghanistan they will kill my father.” Little Shahraza has seen it all. He knows that is what happened to his uncles. He knows that his father was beaten. Each night he hears his father, walking, walking. There is no peace for this father as the thoughts explode into his mind. He cannot sleep. The only relief he gets is walking, walking all night. Shahraza watches silently, “He is under the hand of the doctor, and he eats six tablets every night.” I have tried to write to Shahraza about childhood things but he tells me he does not draw pictures, he does not colour, he has not seen these animals.
“Help me, help me, they will kill my father.” He tells me his mother is crying, and I can see her sad eyes in the photo.
I know Shahraza goes to school with the other Nauru children. They have very few books, or pencils. When he comes home he studies again, this time with the adults who are learning English. His brother goes to school too along with the other little girls and boys. Some of them are in the camp without their fathers. They have clung trembling to their mothers as the waves washed over the little boats. The Dads have been recognised as refugees in Australia, but they are only given temporary protection, for a few years, and no protection for their families. Australia will send the mothers and children back to the horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan. “Take us out of this prison. I was very sad in Afghanistan. I will go to a happy country.” But what can I say?