Australia criticised for silence over Nauru
Australia has been lambasted for its silence on the democratic crisis in Nauru.
Australia has been lambasted for its continuing silence on the political crisis in Nauru.
Citizens say the island's government has silenced dissent, and is blocking attempts by opposition MPs to have their passports re-issued.
International observers say Australia - Nauru's main donor and ally - lacks the courage to rise above its political interests and rein Nauru in.
Alex Perrottet reports.
"It is a peaceful protest but the police were over us, like we were doing something wrong. People are afraid. People are still crying out but they don't want the government to know about them so they are hiding away. So help us fight for our rights on our island because our rights are being trampled on."
Ms Bop is from the constituency of Meneng - the electorate of former President Sprent Dabwido and fellow opposition MP Squire Jeremiah. The two have been suspended along with Mathew Batsiua for over a year and are facing criminal charges for their role in the protest.
Meneng is one of eight constituencies in Nauru with about 800 residents. It has only one MP left, Lyn-Wannan Tawaki Kam, who Ms Bop says is silent and compliant with the government.
The former Chief Justice, Geoffrey Eames, had his visa cancelled last year and was sacked. He says Australia, whose aid money Nauru relies on, has not done enough.
"The Australian government response has been pathetically weak. There was no sound at all, complete silence. Right from the start the Australian government should have said right this is simply no way for a democratic society to perform and made its position loud and clear."
The President of the Australian branch of the International Commission of Jurists, John Dowd, says Australia's asylum seeker detention centre on Nauru is the cause.
"Clearly it's in Australia's political interests to be able to use Nauru irrespective of what's going on there. Australia doesn't want to have to deal with the people that are held on Nauru. We are obviously compromised and I think Australia has acted appallingly in not making a greater fuss."
John Dowd says Australia's leaders should visit Nauru and see the situation for themselves. Mr Eames says the treatment of Roland Kun, whose passport was seized five months ago despite no charges being laid, preventing him from returning to his family in New Zealand, is particularly harsh.
"You've got for example a member of parliament, who's had his passport removed, whose wife and children are in New Zealand. They can't get to him, he can't get to them, and this is just tolerated by government, and he's not been charged with any offence. This is just outrageous conduct."
The Nauru government consistently ignores approaches for comment and the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, says she too is unavailable.
She did express her concerns to media back in July, but John Dowd says that's not enough and Australia is the only country that has the leverage to bring Nauru's leaders to their senses.
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