Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Nauru Refugee Hunger-Strike: Communication Lost

Out of the fire and into the frying pan

By Elaine Smith -

It is a great tragedy that people who managed to escape the persecution and death of Afghanistan, Iraq and other places, should end up being popped into the frying pans of Australia's detention centres. The most notorious of these are in hot isolated places, first Curtin (now closed), Woomera (now closed), Port Hedland, Baxter, Manus Island (one inmate remaining) and Nauru.

Australia has managed to send many people back by various means. There are the last desperate souls in each of the camps who do not know which is worse, to return and face violence, or remain and be imprisoned with their children for life.

Those on Nauru face this dilemma. They have been silenced and isolated as much, if not more than other camps. They have no access to advisers, no legal representation, no independent medical observers, no journalists.

They are cut off from any help. It is impressive to see that these men, women and children learned English. They learned to speak, they learned to write. Maybe they stumble but they have made a valiant effort. Now they write to friends where ever they find them, in many little Australian towns.

The mail deliveries are just another obstacle. We can wait a month or more for a letter to be delivered from impoverished Nauru. They then began to learn the internet, but that was expensive $5 each time for people who could not earn any money, and only accessible when they were taken by guards to the township every two weeks or so. Then recently a phone was installed. We cannot

During this hunger strike time we have all felt powerless. We know that they can rarely get a message from the internet (shut down over the Christmas holiday period), we know that the faxes we sent to IOM have waited days before they are delivered. We cannot phone. We just wait and wait and hope someone has a phone card to get a message out.

We are very anxious because we know they have no friend in Nauru that they can trust to advise them to stop the strike, they have no legal adviser to explain the United Nations' letter. The only advice they had was from an ex Minister for Immigration sent by Amanda Vanstone with a directive to stop the strike. No words were said to them that they could take hope from. Now we wait in silence.

Where will the rescue come from?

I received no phone call in the last 24 hours. I have tried to phone IOM but the line is down. Last year about this time the phones were cut and not repaired for a month or more. I do not know what is happening. The isolation seems complete.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Forgetting Citizenship: Australia Suspends Flights From India

As India is being devastated by COVID-19 cases that have now passed a daily rate of 400,000, affluent and callous Australia has taken the decision to suspend all flights coming into the country till mid-month. The decision was reached by the Morrison ... More>>

Digitl: UK Spy Chief: “The West Has To Go It Alone On Tech"

“Cybersecurity is an increasingly strategic issue that needs a whole-nation approach. The rules are changing in ways not always controlled by government. More>>

The Conversation: From Five Eyes To Six? Japan’s Push To Join The West’s Intelligence Alliance

Craig Mark , Kyoritsu Women's University As tensions with China continue to grow, Japan is making moves to join the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance. This week, Japan’s ambassador to Australia, Shingo Yamagami, told The Sydney Morning ... More>>

The Conversation: Without The Right Financial Strategies, NZ’s Climate Change Efforts Will Remain Unfinished Business

When it comes to climate change, money talks. Climate finance is critical for enabling a low-emissions transition. This involves investment and expenditure — public, private, domestic and transnational — that demonstrably contributes to climate ... More>>

Dr Terrence Loomis: Does Petroleum Industry Spying Really Matter?

Opinion: Nicky Hager’s latest revelations about security firm Thompson and Clark’s ‘spying’ on climate activists and environmental organisations on behalf of the oil and gas industry and big GHG emitters makes entertaining reading. But it does ... More>>

Mixed Sight: New Zealand, The Five Eyes And China

The Five Eyes arrangement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand has always resembled a segregated, clandestine club. Focused on the sharing of intelligence between countries of supposedly like mind, it has shown that ... More>>