10 Nov 2004

Refugee activist says Nauru and Australia have vested interest in detaining asylum seekers

4:19 pm on 10 November 2004

A refugee activist says the Nauru and Australian governments have a vested interest in keeping asylum seekers detained on the island.

The president of the Hazara Ethnic Society in Brisbane, Hassan Ghulam, says the Australian-run facility is pumping money into the ailing Nauruan economy and providing employment opportunities for security officers and nurses.

He says the detention centre is also a vehicle for the Australian government - which has declined refugee status to the 80 remaining detainees - to control politicians in Nauru.

"'' To torture a group of people who are innocent, they did not break any law, and to keep them there in this miserable life because the Nauruan government wants to have money is not the way to handle an economic problem or an economic need."

Hassan Ghulam

Mr Ghulam says 29 of the detaineees are from Afghanistan and the reason they were rejected as refugees during a review five months ago is unclear.