Conditions for refugees are worsening on Manus Island and Nauru. On Nauru, despite hundreds of days of protests and promises of relocation to the United States, refugees continue to be tormented by appalling conditions and no knowledge of their future.
On Manus, conditions are worsening by the hour. The government is attempting to coerce more than 850 refugees into leaving the detention centre, which are slated to close in October. Power and water has been shut off in a number of compounds, buildings have been destroyed, the canteen has been shut, case managers have been banned from the camp and the Australian Federal Police has been sent to the Island.
In spite of this, the refugees are refusing to leave. Conditions outside the camps are extremely unsafe. On 29 July, three refugees were attacked and stabbed in separate incidents. Several similar incidents have happened throughout this year.
The government’s only interest is in making conditions in the camps so unbearable that the refugees leave “voluntarily”, thus enabling it to wash its hands of responsibility for the hundreds of traumatised and endangered people whom it forced onto the island in the first place.
In the face of the refugees’ defiance, the government has also resorted to bribery, offering people $25,000 to return to the country from which they fled by the end of August.
This horrendous abuse cannot go unopposed. Below is a statement released by refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru on 2 August. All the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru should be brought to Australia immediately.
We have waited long enough! We have a right to be free and to know our future! We were tricked into being transferred to Nauru from Christmas Island, promised that we would be freed quickly if we followed the rules. Those who remained on Christmas Island are now in Australia.
Some of us have children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and family in Australia. Our families are heartbroken and devastated from the separation.
We stopped protesting in November 2016, when the prime minister promised to free us and allow us to go to USA. We felt the life come back into our blood with just a tiny bit of hope and thought of freedom. We are still not free nine months later! We are more tormented than ever because we were tantalised with a glimpse, and then slowly let down, yet again.
We have been imprisoned for four years on Nauru. We are punished for our patience and good will.
If Australia won’t take us, we accept that. Let us go to a country who wants us. New Zealand wants us. Let us go there, so we can be good loyal citizens and contribute to the community and build our future. We are good people. We just want freedom in a country where we belong.
ABF [Australian Border Force], you say Nauru is responsible for us, but you make all of the decisions. For Nauru, we are a commodity in a ruined economy. Why do you want to punish us and hold us prisoners in a place where we are simply a means for people to earn an income, because their land was destroyed by your greed? We are human, we want to be responsible for our own lives.
We cannot take this anymore, the lies and false promises are killing us and destroying our minds and souls.
People are still living like animals in the camps. The conditions have made everyone sick. The mould is toxic and dangerous. ABF, you know it is a danger to our health because you had experts from Australia come to Nauru to test it. The experts stated that you are in breach of your duty of care if we remain living, or dying in the those conditions. We have the full report!
We were promised safe accommodation in the community when we became refugees. Many refugees are still in the camp, denied phones with cameras, denied bringing in food and things you think is contraband. We are not free! We live under strict, high security detention control, robbed of our civil liberties because you have nowhere else for us to live. ABF, you say it is the Nauru government responsibility to provide housing. Nauru government says, “We asked Australia for money to rent the places, it is their responsibility”. Let us be free so we can be responsible for ourselves.
We try to talk with ABF and meet to discuss our future, your plan for us, but no one ever comes. You leave us to rot, with no information, with no hope, with no future and with no freedom!
We formally request that we be EVALUATED NOW! Please give us amnesty and let us go to New Zealand. Let the separated families reunite and please have some compassion for us.