Nauru bullying increases tension and self-harm
Refugee advocates in Australia reported that 15 pregnant women would be sent to the Nauru detention camp on October 18, as the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) released alarming information about conditions in the camp.
Immigration minister Scott Morrison had earlier overseen the transfer to Nauru of two pregnant women — one seven months pregnant with twins. He said Nauru’s hospital had two delivery beds, six post-natal beds and a “special-care baby unit”.
RAC said on October 16 that tensions were rising to violent levels — including self-harm and beatings — in the island compound. Its statements are reprinted below.
An Afghan asylum seeker detained in the main single-men’s compound on Nauru has slashed himself after Nauruan guards denied his requests to see a doctor.
The 27-year-old Afghan began suffering chest pains on his left side in the afternoon on October 14.
Worried that he was suffering a heart attack, the man asked to see a doctor; but the Nauruan guard refused his request.
Other concerned asylum seekers also requested that the man be allowed to see a doctor, but were also refused.
Late that night, the man severely slashed his chest.
He refused attention and bled for two-and-a-half hours before he was taken to the medical centre.
He was released from the medical centre into the detention centre the next day with extensive stitches and bandaging.
About 150 asylum seekers have now been waiting in appalling conditions for up to seven months for the Nauruan government to give answers to their refugee claims.
Clashes between the Nauruan guards and asylum seekers in the overcrowded detention centre are becoming increasingly common.
Yet asylum seekers report that complaints about the heavy-handedness of the guards are routinely ignored.
One asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) that harassment by guards has become a daily feature of the detention centre.
“We are forced to wait and queue for everything, guards tried to force people out of a queue for the phone or for meals to get identification, which is not necessary.
“If you refuse, you are bullied or threatened and sometimes guards punch the asylum seekers.”
RAC spokesperson Ian Rintoul said: “We welcome the announcement today that refugees will not be permanently confined to Nauru. But the Nauru and Australian governments are deliberately delaying the refugee assessments.
“Tensions are rising.”
A fight between asylum seekers and a Nauruan local on October 11 has resulted in all local Nauruan workers being banned from Bravo compound of the main detention centre on Nauru.
Reports indicate that the Nauruan local who attacked the Lebanese detainee works for the Salvation Army.
The Lebanese detainee hit by the Salvation Army worker required stitches to a head injury.
There are also more reports of self-harm, attempted suicides and individual hunger strikes in Bravo compound.
Bravo compound is a separate area of the main compound that holds about 70 people facing charges over the July 19 protests.
The fight came only two days after immigration minister Scott Morrison visited the detention centre.
Tensions have been increasing particularly in recent weeks driven by the overcrowding as more asylum seekers have been dumped in the makeshift tent camp.
There are long lines to use the limited number of toilets (there are now about 10 toilets for between 500 and 600 people; queues at meal times with waits up to an hour; lines for the strictly regulated four-minute showers.
The condition of the toilets is appalling and there is an epidemic of skin problems, particularly on feet, attributed to the filthy conditions.
Complaints about inadequate medical treatment are also growing. “They just can’t treat people,” one asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition.
There are also reports of Nauruan detention workers being harassed by other locals hostile to the presence of the detention centre.
Iranians’ hunger strike reaches 30 days
A group of Iranians continue their hunger strike outside the immigration department in Melbourne.
Local Australian-Iranian man Jahangir Hosseini has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days.
Another four women and one man have joined him on hunger strike.
The hunger strikers plan to continue their hunger strike until seven hostages abducted by Iraqi forces are released.
Hosseini called on the Australian government to intervene to secure the immediate release of the seven hostages, six of who are women.
The hostages were seized during a massacre of Iranian refugees in Iraq’s Camp Ashraf on September 1.
The massacre was carried out by the Iraqi armed forces on behalf of the Iranian regime.
Fifty-two people were killed and seven were abducted.
Izzy Brown recorded this interview about the hunger strikers in Melbourne.
Pressure grows on NSW MPs to reject anti-choice bill
A bill to recognise crime or harm against a foetus was debated a second time in NSW parliament on October 17.
About 100 protesters rallied outside before filling the public gallery to witness the debate.
Liberal MP Chris Spence’s bill, the Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2013 No. 2, also known as “Zoe’s law”, aims to amend the NSW Crimes Act.
It would give rights and personhood to foetuses of more than 20 weeks (or weighing more than 400 grams), which has troubling implications for women’s reproductive control.
The bill is supported by NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith, former president of NSW Right to Life.
The protesters said the bill represented a dangerous attack on women’s reproductive rights, which are already constrained in NSW.
The law is opposed by Family Planning NSW, the NSW Bar Association, the Australian Medical Association, the Federation of Community Legal Centres, the Greens and women’s health services.
ABBOTT WATCH: Plan to privatise HECS, charities
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is considering a plan to sell off Australia’s $23 billion Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) debt
The debt, owed by university students, could be privatised and sold to investors.
The Greens strongly oppose to the proposal. Senator Lee Rhiannon said: “Shifting the ownership of debt into private hands creates perverse incentives to increase student debt in the long term. The private sector isn’t lobbying for this change out of the goodness of their hearts. They’ve looked at the United States, are keen to replicate that model here — where the private sector profits from student debt.
“Total student debt in the United States is over $1 trillion dollars. HECS debt in Australia is already projected to double to $42.1 billion by 2016-17.
“This is likely to increase even further due to the Coalition’s plan to slash Start Up Scholarships — adding thousands of dollars to the debt of low-income students.”
Dick Cheney reveals heart defibrillator was altered to thwart terrorist hacks
Former US vice-president Dick Cheney has revealed that his heart implant was altered to prevent terrorists from hacking into it.
Mr Cheney, who was former president George W Bush’s right-hand man in the “war on terror,” has had a long history of heart troubles.
Prior to his heart transplant nearly two years ago, Mr Cheney underwent a series of life-saving procedures, including an implanted defibrillator.
But his doctor, cardiologist Jonathan Reiner, had the device’s wireless function disabled when it was replaced in 2007 so that terrorists could not trigger a fatal shock to his heart.
“I was aware of the danger… that existed… I found it credible,” Mr Cheney told CBS television.
But the man who was a the heart of the war on terror launched by the US in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks insisted that his health concerns never got in the way of his job.
Mr Cheney not only played a major role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but also in terrorist surveillance programs, harsh interrogation tactics used on terror suspects and wiretapping.
France’s Hollande says deported schoolgirl Leonarda Dibarani may return without family
French president Francois Hollande says a Roma schoolgirl whose controversial deportation sparked mass student protests will be allowed to come back, but without her family.
Leonarda Dibrani’s eviction caused an outcry because she was detained during a school trip before being deported with her family to Kosovo, and students took to the streets this week demanding the 15-year-old return and interior minister Manuel Valls resign.
“If she makes a request, and if she wants to continue her studies, she will be given a welcome, but only she,” Mr Hollande said live on television, in his first remarks on an affair that burst into the limelight on Wednesday.
He cited the results of a formal probe published on Saturday, which found that the deportation was lawful but that police could have used better judgement in the way they handled it.
Ms Dibrani immediately turned down Mr Hollande’s offer, speaking from the town of Mitrovica in Kosovo where she has been living with her family since their October 9 deportation from the eastern French town of Levier.
“I will not go alone to France, I will not abandon my family. I’m not the only one who has to go to school, there are also my brothers and sisters,” she said in fluent French.
Her father Resat, 47, added that the family would not be divided and would return to France by any means.
“My children were integrated in France, we continue to fight as my children are strangers here (in Kosovo)”, he said.
Ms Dibrani’s deportation only emerged into the public realm this week after it was brought to light by a non-governmental organisation.
Her parents and five brothers and sisters had lived in France for four years while their asylum bid was processed. It was eventually rejected in the summer.