Russian Journo on Nauru plus Reza Trial further delays

Russian photographer reports on conditions for refugees on Nauru.

Shameful Australian media blackout continues.

Nauru: Dream Turned Nightmare for Boat Refugees Seeking Asylum in Australia [RIA Novosti – 2/11/14]:

… Amnesty International tried to visit the island state in early 2014. Nauru’s government turned down their request along with a request from UN human rights observers, citing “the current circumstances and incredibly busy time”, as well as “practical difficulties”, Amnesty International said in a news release.

“Nauru’s refusals to allow an independent review of the conditions in the detention centre are another damning development in Australia’s offshore asylum processing system,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

Under new regulations, introduced by Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, in July, 2013, asylum seekers, brought to Nauru or the Manus Island, are banned from receiving a refugee status from Canberra and relocating to Australia. If eligible, they can receive refugee status and stay in Papua New Guinea or Nauru.

However, leaving these island nations is just as hard as bringing relatives there. Furthermore, refugees are not allowed to share their stories with the outside world.

Despite apparent attempts to prevent human rights activists and journalists from coming to the island, Russian photographer Vlad Sokhin managed to visit Nauru as a tourist. He has recently shared a heart-breaking account of what it is like to live on the islands as a refugee inRussian Reporter magazine.

“Everyone is spying on us here. Every our step is reported to the police. We are strictly forbidden from talking to foreigners or journalists,” Mujtaba, a Shia refugee from Pakistan, told Sokhin. Mujtaba works at Capelle & Partner, the only supermarket on the island, which makes him one of the few lucky refugees to have work. Unemployment in Nauru is as high as 90 percent.

Mujtaba recalled deplorable conditions in the detention center, where he had spent 10 months. Like other asylum seekers, Mujtaba had to share a tent with 20 people.

“The tents got unbearably hot in the sun; it was extremely hot inside – no fans, no air conditioning. Children and pregnant women had to live under the same conditions. There were eight toilets for 400 people. We were allowed to use shower for two or three minutes if there was water. Sometimes there was no drinking water,” Mujtaba said.

“I think, Australians deliberately forced us to live under such conditions, so that we would spread the word – don’t try to enter Australia illegally, you will go to hell instead.”

Adnan, his wife Mariam and their 12-year-old son fled from Iranian Kurdistan. Adnan’s wife is six months pregnant and in desperate need of medical attention.

“My wife is due soon. But she has pregnancy complications,” Adnan told Sokhin. “She suffered from anxiety when we lived in the detention center as if it were prison. The doctor at the Nauru hospital is completely incompetent. Several times my wife was prescribed medication contraindicated in pregnancy. There is no ultrasound scan. We cannot buy vitamins here,” he explained.

These are far from being isolated cases. Vlad Sokhin talked to other people, who were trapped on the small island fleeing persecution in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Somalia. Following Australia’s agreement with Cambodia, signed last month, they have now an option to settle in the South East Asian nation.

But Papua New Guinea, Nauru or Cambodia hardly compare to a developed country and all the opportunities it can provide to people seeking better life. Yet Australia continues to deny them what the UN considers a basic human right.

Reza Barati murder trial delayed.

No news on what happened at today’s constitutionality hearing?

ABC [3/11/14]:

The murder trial for two men accused of killing Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati has been delayed after the two Papua New Guinean suspects were not provided with a lawyer.

Mr Barati was beaten to death during a riot at the Australian-run detention centre [a brutal attack on Australia’s refugee death camp] on Manus Island in February.

The Manus Island National Court was expected to set a date for the murder trial of two men suspected of killing Mr Barati, but when neither man had a lawyer in court today the case was adjourned.

An exact date was not set, but it will be next year before a judge returns to the remote island, north of Papua New Guinea.

The two men arrested for his murder are in custody on the island and police have said they are looking for three more suspects.

PNG Facts [7/10/14]:

The Supreme Court hearing on the Constitutionality of the Manus Asylum Centre will commence in November, before a five men bench.

The directions to finalize the hearing date were given by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia today.

The matter is between opposition Leader Belden Namah and the Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato, relating to Namah’s argument that the asylum centre is illegal as human rights abuse was encouraged by its existence and that it is a lock up for people who have not committed any crime under PNG laws.

Meanwhile Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato and the state have been told to submit any other material that would be included in the application book for their defence by November 3.

Also, certain amendments were made to the application by Namah’s lawyer Loani Henao.

Sir Injia says the matter had been taking quite a while and it is now time to finalise all necessary documents in order to commence hearing starting November 7.

Pamela Curr
Refugee and Detention Rights Advocate
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

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