The refugee policies of the Australian government are creating more and more misery as disturbing news of self-harm and violence against refugees keeps coming in from Nauru.
By Tim Tran, Socialist Party
Horrific conditions inside the Australian-run detention centre were further exposed by the recent Moss Review and the Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into children in detention. These inquiries laid bare the widespread atrocities that refugees face every day in these off-shore prisons.
People with mental health issues are left to themselves while basic healthcare is lacking in the facilities. Many of the refugees are held in detention for months, or even years, without knowing their future. Deep seated frustration often leads them to self-harm.
Reports have also shown evidence of refugees being abused by guards and in some cases rape and sexual assaults have been committed in exchange to access to medicine or showers. Racist abuse is also an issue with the views of some guards highlighted by their attendance at an anti-Muslim Reclaim Australia rally in April.
Being released from detention into the impoverished community on Nauru is little better. Nauru has no legal obligation to protect those who are temporarily settled there and as such refugees are given next to no support.
Employment has emerged as a point of tension between refugees and Nauru locals with the official unemployment rate hovering around 25%. Seen as competitors for jobs, locals have attacked refugees with knives and rocks. There is a real risk that someone could be killed in the not too distant future.
Nauru is incapable of dealing with an influx of refugees and the Australian government’s refusal to take responsibility for the matter only further angers the locals. The Australian government is attempting to encourage refugees currently in Nauru to settle in Cambodia by falsely promising them a “good life”. The deal between Australia and Cambodia is merely another attempt to turn an under-developed country into a refugee dumping ground.
The information provided to refugees on Nauru is grossly incorrect as it paints Cambodia as a “safe country” where people “enjoy all the freedoms of a democratic society”. Cambodia is in fact notorious for the deportation of refugees and it is the 17th most corrupt country in the world. Refugees have seen through this lie and hundreds have protested on Nauru in an attempt to resist the plan.
Australia’s offshore detention centres are not only hell holes but a huge waste of money. Shutting down these prisons and processing refugees onshore in the community would save billions and be much more humane. The money saved could be used to build homes and provide services for everyone in Australia, creating thousands of jobs in the process.
There is no shortage of wealth or resources in Australia the problem is the way it is distributed. At the moment Australia’s top 1% owns more wealth than the bottom 60% of the population. That is the main issue that needs to be addressed not the relatively small numbers of refugees coming here fleeing war and persecution.
We need to replace the system that concentrates wealth in the hands of a tiny minority while their wars for profits force people to flee their homes. Working people should resist the government’s racist scapegoating of refugees and unite to fight for democratic socialist society where the wealth created is used to create a better standard of living for everyone.