Nauru detention camp has now been running for 1,000 days
An activist looking back at 1,000 days of Australia's asylum seeker camps on Nauru says they have been an absolute disaster.
Today, 25th March, marks 1,000 days since Australia re-opened its detention camp for asylum seekers on Nauru.
Many of those original inmates remain on the island along with those that have been declared genuine refugees.
For the past week asylum seekers, including children, have been protesting their continued incarceration on the remote island.
The campaign co-ordinator for Melbourne's Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Pamela Curr, has reflected back on the thousand days and told Don Wiseman the Australian scheme has been an absolute disaster for all parties.
PAMELA CURR: After 1000 days there is still 144 people including 49 children locked up in the camp - well they say it is an open camp, but they are searched both leaving and going into the camp; they have no money, they are only allowed to take two bottles of water and a packet of sandwiches when they leave the camp. So it is ensure that they starve them so they have to return. It is a disaster. It is for the people in the camp and also for those who have been so-called resettled in the community. They are dotted around the island in de-mountable housing in isolated locations where they are not safe. We have seen countless women sexually harassed, raped. Women have been brought to Australia to have abortions following rape. This is known by our politicians on both sides. The situation for single, adult women on Nauru is simply appalling. They have no protection from the police. Not one Nauruan has been investigated or charged for an offence against a non-Nauruan. We have seen the judiciary in Nauru dismantled, the police - AFP commissioner not allowed to return, the New Zealand government has rightfully withdrawn funding from the Nauru system because of the corruption and the lack of transparency. It is also bad for the local people. They have got no rights to dissent, they have no opposition, they are about to have elections which are expected to be corrupt and fixed. This is an appalling situation for a wealthy country, a wealthy, stable nation like Australia to exploit a former colony in this way.
DON WISEMAN: Australia as well is due to go to elections. Do you think there could be any change there or is there just going to be more of the same if there is a change of government?
PC: Well the outcome of the Australian elections is anybody's guess at this stage. There is a lot of disquiet with our politics in Australia but unfortunately that disquiet is not really based on the refugee policies. There is a third of Australians absolutely opposed to our current policy, a third of Australians sitting in the middle don't know what to think, and a third of Australians support the government in any harsh measures that they take.
DW: That third of Australians that support it, support it because of the rhetoric around ensuring no lives are lost at sea, but there doesn't seem to be and never has been much concern about the state of health or the lives of the people who are incarcerated.
PC: That is very much the case. We have seen a number of deaths by suicide and illness and in Manus Island by direct attack from locals, so lives have been lost in our camps, both in Australia and Manus. So far Nauru has been lucky but we have seen people assaulted brutally on Nauru. They are down here in our hospitals, receiving care for attacks on Nauru. This is a very poor situation in the Pacific. We look to New Zealand for some leadership in this area because the leadership is lacking in this country. We are treating our neighbours very badly. We are just ordering them around, throwing money at them, and getting them to do things that incur the wrath of the international community. It is not a good way to set up peaceful co-operative relationships in our region.
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