Most people will have a passing awareness of what’s been happening to refugees attempting to reach Australia. To say the Australian government has a lot to answer for is one hell of an understatement. This is open, unapologetic torture, and right now, it doesn’t look like anyone much cares that the main effect of this “open air camp” is suicide. When death becomes a preferable option, you get an idea of just how bad things are. These people, already carrying heavy burdens of trauma, are being treated as untouchable, nasty things, and as Esme Weatherwax pointed out, all the ills in the world begin there, with treating people like things. Although reading, it seems to me they are more being treated like inconvenient garbage that someone littered about. This is a terribly ugly story, filled with terribly ugly people, who cannot manage to dredge up the smallest sliver of concern. All around the world, we human beings are failing at being human, in a most spectacular way.
Refugees and asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australia by boat are turned away and detained in refugee processing centers on the Pacific island of Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The Australian government has argued that the policy acts as a good deterrence against human smugglers and people who might choose to undertake the journey to its shores. But those who wind up on these offshore detention sites face indefinite and unlawful detention, an ordeal so disastrous that refugees and asylum seekers are turning to self-harm to cope, according to a new human rights organization report released Monday.
The Amnesty International report found that it was not uncommon for detainees to try and kill themselves, based on field and desk research that happened between July and October 2016. One man failed to kill himself twice in a span of ten weeks. Another Iranian refugee who tried to kill herself multiple times every week was eventually put in a medical ward. And a man found his pregnant wife in the bathroom with rope marks on her neck.
Some service-providers at the detention center described practices that made refugees and asylum seekers feel less than human. One guard forcibly took away candy from a girl. Some asylum seekers were taken from showers after two minutes, with shampoo in their hair. Others had to wait weeks or months for basic necessities like underwear and shoes.
In a conversation with a seven-year-old boy from Iran, a service-provider told Amnesty International that the child would keep asking him questions. “He’d say ‘I don’t understand this place. Prisons are for bad people, right? Bad people are the men who hurt my father [in Iran]. Why am I in prison? Does that mean I am a bad person?’”
Nauru’s refugee processing center is described as an “open” center meaning that once people are recognized as refugees, they are moved into accommodation outside the refugee processing center on the same island, roughly one-third the size of Manhattan. But much of the island is uninhabitable, now environmentally ravaged by generations of phosphate mining.
Even refugees and asylees living outside detention grounds face Nauru police who fail to adequately investigate their complaints. One father, who told the police about a man who tried to rape his daughter, was told that the judge was “off duty.” An Iranian refugee who tried to report a robbery got the run-around from police who said that “their computer was broken.” When he offered to give handwritten testimony, he was told that they didn’t have paper.
Many of the abuses that Neistat found are consistent with previous accounts of abuse detailed by other refugees and asylum seekers. In late April, at least two refugees tried setting themselves on fire. One died from the self-immolation, while the other refugee suffered critical injuries. In August, The Guardian reported on 2,000 reports of abuse and neglect, which found that children were “vastly overrepresented in the reports.”
People set themselves on fire. On fire, for fuck’s sake. If this does not break your heart, if this does not make you ask questions, if this does not make you angry, something is very, very wrong.
The Australian government spends $419,425 per person, per year on offshore processing. In comparison, the U.S. government spends about $59,860 per person, per year on detention. Yet as the allegations show, the costs do not reflect the care that refugees and asylum seekers receive.
After clicking all the links, and doing all the reading, I would really like to know just where in the hell all that money is going, because it most certainly is not going into care of and for refugees and asylum seekers. The stench of corruption is wafting about.
* I probably have nothing to worry about here, but if you’re the type of asshole who thinks it would be pertinent to comment about how your two year old could draw better than that 16 year old, you’ll be banned so fast you’ll end up with whiplash.
The full story is at Think Progress.