In amongst the relaxations for many of us of the Easter weekend and the current debate about the fate of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia, Michael Gordon has done an article in The Age reminding us of people the Government would like us to forget – the 54 asylum seekers marooned on Nauru.
I’ve visited Nauru twice and met many of the people still stuck there. It is a terrible situation with great suffering and great expense and no justification. Putting people in detention on Nauru has no more impact in deterring asylum seekers than detaining them in Australia, despite Government talk of the ‘success’ of the Pacific Solution. The real purpose is two-fold: (a) to put them outside our legal system, in our version of Guantanemo Bay, and (b) to put them out of sight and out of mind, where they cannot be visited and cannot tell their stories effectively. Sadly, this part of the Government’s strategy has worked.
This is why articles such as the one by Michael Gordon are so important. He has done a few very powerful and effective pieces on the Nauru asylum seekers over the last year or two – his use of straightforward and comprehensive facts means he doesn’t need to rely on emotional rhetoric, as the facts are sufficient to draw out the emotional responses.
UPDATE: Also, click here for a reminder of the number of children who have spent Easter in migration detention, including 6 on Nauru. The site also includes information on viable and realistic (and cheaper) alternatives to detention.
One of those children is baby Amy, a one year old who was born in detention. I met Amy and her parents, Tran Toan, and Pham Thi Phuong Thuy, along with most of the other Vietnamese detainees, when I visited Christmas Island last November (a visit I wrote about here.) The asylum seekers on Christmas Island, including 10 children, are as forgotten as those on Nauru.
Amy had her case considered by the Refugee Review Tribunal (via phone link-up) while I was on the island and she was found to be a refugee. However, her parents’ claim was unsuccessful, so baby Amy remains in detention waiting for the Minister to use her powers to grant a visa. Their story is reported in West Australia’s Sunday Times. I should be going to Christmas Island again next month as part a visit by the Parliamentary Committee on Migration. I would hope by then the Minister will have acted, and I won’t be meeting Amy’s parents there again when I visit.