Nauru Crisis Deepens but govt remains unmoved

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Narrogin
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130
Web: http://www.safecom.org.au/

Nauru Crisis Deepens but govt remains unmoved

Nauru crisis deepens with 41 hungerstrikers and 22 in hospital
Australian government delegation achieves nothing
New Zealand interventions shame Australian inaction
UNHCR should step up Secondary Determination pressure on govt
Vanstone comments out of step with medical assessments

Media Release
Wednesday December 24 2003 10:30am WST
For Immediate Release
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Additional Media Contacts BELOW this release

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Nauru Crisis Deepens but govt remains unmoved
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Nauru crisis deepens with 41 hungerstrikers and 22 in hospital
Australian government delegation achieves nothing
New Zealand interventions shame Australian inaction
UNHCR should step up Secondary Determination pressure on govt
Vanstone comments out of step with medical assessments

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Nauru crisis deepens with 41 hungerstrikers and 22 in hospital
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As of yesterday evening, 22 December, the number of hungerstrikers increased to 41, while 22 people are in the Nauru hospital for treatment.

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Australian government delegation achieves nothing
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As the transcript of the meeting with the government delegation prepared by the hungerstrikers on NAURU (see full transcript below) reached refugee advocates in Australia, it becomes evident that the delegation sent by Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone, was an expensive mission but achieved nothing, while Vanstone spins what we have come to expect from the Howard government: 'that all is well, that the government will do nothing, and that there is no medical emergency on Nauru.'

The delegation was on Nauru for two days, but on the second day it did not return for more contact with the detainees or hungerstrikers.

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Vanstone comments out of step with medical assessments
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Hazara Society president Hassan Ghulam, who was charged by the hungerstrikers to be their representative, commented about Amanda Vanstone's remarks that detainees were in a 'remarkable condition', that "the criteria of Minister Vanstone's medical assessment had probably more to do with her size and weight than with what the medical professionals on Nauru had expressed."

"This government has been unwilling to consider the considerable library of 246 Australian and International reports on its shameful refugee treatment", Mr Ghulam said.

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UNHCR should step up Secondary Determination pressure on govt
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While many if not all UNHCR countries have invoked clauses of Secondary Determination - where asylum seekers who do not strictly fit the rather narrow UN Refugee Convention criteria are found to be "persons in need of protection" - the Australian government keeps ignoring UNHCR Bulletins as well as countless other reports that clearly warn UN member states to not determine to send people back to Afghanistan or Iraq.

The Howard government should find itself under increasing public pressure from its regional UNHCR Representatives to allow all asylum seekers from Nauru to be allowed protection on the Australian mainland under a secondary protection agreement.

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New Zealand interventions shame Australian inaction
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As reported by The Age and the New Zealand Herald yesterday, discussions are taking place in New Zealand in government circles and with the International Organisation for Migration, the organisation that manages the Nauru detention centre, about New Zealand taking some of the Nauru asylum seekers, where Green Party MP Keith Locke "suggested that New Zealand accept some of the detainees to pressure Australia into doing likewise." (NZ Herald, see link below)

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MEDIA CONTACTS:
================

Hassan Ghulam
President, Hazara Ethnic Society
Brisbane
[phone number posted]

Elaine Smith
Nauru detainees contact person
West Haven NSW
[phone number posted]

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
Narrogin/Fremantle WA
[phone number posted]

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ONLINE RESOURCES:
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NZ may take asylum seekers - The Age, by Meaghan Shaw, Canberra (December 24, 2003)

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/12/23/1071941726870.html

Nauru hunger strikers collapse as pressure grows on Australia, New Zealand Herald (23.12.2003), by SCOTT MacLEOD

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=3540790

Statement of Nauru Hungerstrikers:

http://www.safecom.org/nauru-dec03.htm

See also the Nauru Wire Website:

http://www.nauruwire.org/

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TRANSCRIPT: The Visit of Former Immigration Minister, Mr. John Hodges
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MR JOHN HODGES arrived here at topside camp at 3:25 in the afternoon with another man called GHULAM ABBAS as an interpreter.

The words of the Former Minister are written bellow when he spoke to the Hunger strikers in topside detention center.

MR JOHN HODGES: My name is JOHN HODGES and with me is GHULAM ABBAS and Ghulam is going to do some interpreting when you people ask any questions on me so I leave it with the Ghulam now.

GHULAM ABBAS: He translated the things that MR JOHN HODGES was saying during the meeting.

MR JOHN HODGES: We are very sad to see so many people of you here some with their lips sewn and so many of you on hunger strike.

The last thing that any body would want to see anywhere in the world is people in this situation. A few days ago the Australian Immigration Minister, Minister Amanda you are probably aware that there has been a change of Minister rang and ask if I would come with Mr. Ghulam Abbas to see you people meet you and to assess what the situation was like here and to report back to her. So this visit has nothing to do with UNHCR OR IOM.

This is a visit that has been brought about as a result of the Australian Government and the Australian Minister.

Some of you may remember that Mr. Abbas and I were here last year in March 2002, this camp at that stage was much less developed then it is now but at least the people at that time I guess had some hope and it pains us to see you people in this stage you are in.

Once we have completed this visit and we leave tomorrow afternoon we will be reporting back to the minister a number of matters and we may even be making some recommendation to her.

But you have to understand that any change of decisions is not for us to make but for Australian government and Australian Minister.

I guess two things we would like to do. And one is to see the end to this hunger strike and that is very important for your health and your well being. And the other one; I am concerned that you have been here on Nauru for about two years and it doesn't seem to be any hope for you unless you to decide to go home so the first thing that we must endure (this word might be spelled wrongly or understood wrongly but it was heard like this) to do is to get you people back to good health and get you off this hunger strike. That is the first thing that must be done.

Once that is achieved I know that you people want some permanent solution to the problem that you face. I know the back ground to your claims and the fact that you did not accept the package to return to you home country.

Mr. Abbas and I have come here to assess the situation we don't want to build you hopes but we do want to do some thing positive. And we can only do something positive by advising the Minister who we hope will find away out for you people.

We both Mr. Abbas and I know what your major concern is?

But we have a major a concern with your health at the moment. So I want to repeat to you that we would like you to cease the hunger strike that you are on, get your self to the normal health and will take certain things.

Back for further consideration by the Australian Government and the Minister.

I would like to have you asked Questions of us. But before I do, Ghulam I don't know whether you want to say something your self to these people. But certainly I'll be prepared to answer if I can any question you might like to ask.

GHULAM ABBAS: The things that I want to say to you are that, I came here last year. When I came here my visit was not hopeful for you people. It was not a hopeful visit because I didn't want to lie to you people.

I was thinking if I return back I might not be able to do something for you. Whatever was true I made it clear for you that nothing is in my hand? It is in the hands of Minister and The Australian Government.

And we can only make a report of your conditions you are in. and the tragedy which has been created now I urge as a Hazara your brother or your Muslim brother (it doesn't matter we all Shia and sonni are brothers) I honestly and faithfully write a report to make you out of this situation but I will say it again to you that it is not in our hands. It is in the hands of the Australian Government and the Minister.

Thanks for your listening.

At the end MR ARIF HALIMY said to the former Immigration Minister:

MR ARIF HALIMY: first of all I would like to welcome you for coming to topside detention center and secondly I am speaking on the behalf of my other friends who are on the hunger strike since 10th of december and the other group of people who joined later on.

I would like to say that I don't have many questions to ask you but I have one statement to pass our message to the Immigration minister and The australian government that we would like to have freedom or die. if didn't acheive the freedom then we will acheive the death. on of them will be achieved so i request to see the conditions of the people here and do something as a human being and what the Humanitarian laws are for the refuges and especially the rights of a refuge according to the convention of 1951.

and also he said the things that you are saying to us every day the doctor says the same but there is no way to stop the hunger strike unless we get our freedom.

he repeated the same point again and again, so MR JOHN HODGES replies to Him and said:

MR JOHN HODGES: I fully understand your situation and i will pass your message to the australian government and to the Minister but every thing is in their hands and they will work out what to do and how to solve the problem.the only thing and important thing that you have to do is to end this hunger strike get back to the normal health.

MR ARIF HALIMY: he replied the same words again and said No...!

then John Hodges asked from others if they have any other question but no one said any thing he left the meeting by saying these words i congratulate your representitive for managing all these for you.

When they went to meet the women in the gate house they said to them that we have heard from the newspaper and all the media and many people in Australia know what is happening here. then one of the ladies stood and said we will also join the men if their demands are not accepted then Mr John said: I don't want to see that and also i don't want men especially women and children to be involved in this i want to see the end to this hunger strike.

then another woman stood and said we want freedom or death.

this was the end.

yours sincerely:

chaman shah nasiri

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