Nauru opposition banned from commenting on refugee resettlement
Nauru opposition banned in local media from commenting on government's controversial decision to resettle refugees on the island.
For the second time in a fortnight the Nauru opposition has been banned from having local media cover their criticism of government actions - this time the government's conflicting reports on plans to house refugees on the island.
At the weekend the Nauru president, Baron Waqa, signed an agreement with Australia's Kevin Rudd to settle refugees on the island.
The government has said it would not allow the opposition to raise concerns about the deal because this would confuse the populace.
But the opposition's Mathew Batsiua says since the announcement confusion has reigned supreme and it's entirely down to the government. He spoke to Don Wiseman.
MATHEW BATSIUA: That's because government have [given] mixed messages, mixed responses to the public about exactly what the deal will entail, will involve. So we're as confused as everyone else. And this will not add to the confusion. This is trying to get answers from the government so everybody can be aware exactly what they've signed off to, because, quite frankly, it looks like the government themselves don't know what they've signed off to.
DON WISEMAN: Do you think that the people on the island are managing to get the news anyway through over means?
MB: People are trying their best to catch up. This government did not consult with the people openly before. They went to Australia and signed this agreement. So people are now just trying to catch up. And like I said, no favours have been done 'cause government have had mixed messages from day one. You've got acting presidents here in Nauru contradicting the president, who was in Brisbane for the press conference. So from day one there's been contradictions from government officials, government ministers contradicting the president and people just trying to catch up. And we've weighed in to the whole debate 'cause we, first of all, oppose resettlement. But secondly we were getting confused, as well, because they've signed up clearly to an MOU that commits Nauru to accept refugees resettling in Nauru on a permanent basis, but we have ministers coming out and government officials coming out saying that that's not the case. Now, what is the case? This is what we've been airing. This is what people have been asking. But the government does not want those views to be aired by us, and so they put a media ban on us so our views do not get aired locally.
DW: What does the opposition make of the spin that the government is putting on it, that these people won't be there permanently, that they won't get citizenship, they won't get permanent residency. Is that relevant? They're still going to be resettled, clearly, for a period.
MB: Yeah, well, I think there's a lot of playing with words. There's clearly an effort to back-pedal a bit on what they've committed Nauru to doing. You cannot escape the fact that the words and the text in the MOU clearly states that Nauru has accepted to resettle any person deemed to be a refugee under the convention and are seeking refuge here in Nauru. The government has committed Nauru to that position and that's clearly the words of the MOU that they've signed off to. Now they're trying to back-pedal saying really what they meant is different. If they mean 'different' then why sign something and commit Nauru if that's not what their heart is telling them to do? It seems like they don't know what they've signed up to. And that's where the whole confusion is. The confusion is not in the opposition speaking to the media. The confusion is with government 'cause they've signed a document that commits Nauru to something, but they're now telling people in Nauru that's not what they meant. So that's where the confusion is.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: