Are Abuses in Nauru a Reflection of Compliance Over Democracy?

I say compliance over democracy in the heading as I am observing we have become more a country of rules, compliance, contracts moving us outside of democracy, empathy, values, obligations (refugee convention) and an ability to naturally know what is humane and what is violence.

In this compliance mentality, which arises from risk management, policing, military hierarchy, bureaucracy where rules and laws are used to gain control rather than solving human problems, we see more abuses arise. This mentality comes from fear not love of others.  We are coldly disconnected from the plight of others.  What I understand is when people seek to control others they revoke their rights e.g. jails, detention centres even within employment and unemployment. When people are dehumanised, vulnerable or in some way in a weakened position you can witness others removed from their humanity. This is the profile of bullying. At its essence is powerless people seeking power over others powerless.  What this means is those who exhibit behaviours of bullying are seeking power (consciously, unconsciously) as they feel powerless.  The issue for example of refugees endlessly coming makes them fearful and powerless to stop it. So they seek ways to control their environment.  This mindset translates into right versus wrong, it has no empathy for the other as it believes its own story, it will legitimise abuse by demonising the other as their personal humanity is disconnected.  We see Public Relations (PR) spin increasingly used to frame the conversation (selective information) in Australia to make inhuman actions right for the greater good.  People will believe that until they walk the shoes (if they have shoes) of the other.  We had a program here called ‘Go Back Back to Where You Came From’ (refer This was on ABC television and it was in response to the ignorance of mainstream Australia who blindly believed the negative stereotyping. They sent a group of right wing Australians to places like Afghanistan to let them see first hand the conditions people were fleeing from.  They came back horrified and transformed. So when we know the truth we change, in ignorance we become dangerous as we can easily be manipulated by those with agendas spending taxpayers money. So it is our responsibility as citizens to take note and merely express is this in my name or not? It is not in my name I don’t vote for this and as a citizen I am asking my government to change and look into the dark abyss that has been avoided as to your responsibility as individuals and members of a collective, cross the floor if it is not right no matter what party you are with, that is true world citizenship and honesty. An informed public, which should be normal in a democracy, is the way to prevent abuses. Moreover, a public that actually can act on information when its government is quietly turning a blind eye to abuse (private contractors) rather than feeling powerless.  Does this ring a bell? Why can’t the public call for a plebicite. This is when the public can call for a referendum (vote) on an important question to change the constitution. All abuse should be banned under the Australian Constitution. Abuse (bullying) is repeated negative behaviour that causes injury (psychological or physical injury) to a person or persons. Physical abuse is illegal in this country as it is deemed violence against another person. We have Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Royal Commission into Family Violence refer So it is an issue that demands our attention. The situation in Nauru (and other detention centres) is relevant legally as Australian contractors are doing it according to media reports. I’d be interested to know what Nauru people think? What does the leadership there think – are they seeing money or humans? What if money was perceived as nothing compared to dignity? What if our integrity was the real wealth of our nation. Now I will add that abuses are happening around the world, I’ve seen a few myself, so abuse is a global phenomenon and my hope is through democracy we will expose it here and then I would ask other countries to stop it. Democracy is not a Western notion, it is simply sharing power. It is effective when it works as we all learn to speak up and take responsibility. In reality we have equal power. In the future we will come into understanding that we are indeed One, what you do to another you do to yourself in truth. At this point people still see it as not their problem, go into denial and refuse to face their own guilt or apathy in abusing another human. Whether you do it directly or via a systemic abuse you are still linked to it energetically (karmic), but that is another story.

The Australian legal situation of excising (legally redrawing boundaries) Australian territory islands from the Australian mainland was how legal systems were used to say ‘not my problem’, it is not a sovereign part of Australia thereby we can circumvent Australian obligations (legally) under the 1951 Refugee Convention. Refer the migration zone They do this is the mistaken belief that punishing those fleeing persecution, poverty, violence or for other reasons must suffer to dissuade others. It will stop demand.  This a flawed premise. They don’t have internet like us or the same media to watch to see it is not a fun holiday in Australia that they will be jailed in perpetuity.  The people smugglers are dissuaded as they are not at risk, only the boat operators. They take the money. So does it work? This mindset  doesn’t acknowledge the humanitarian dimension whereby a person flees in need of help. Now their fear is being overrun by those from another nation. If we research this through interviewing refugees most do not want to leave their country, they would prefer to stay. Now how can we help alleviate the conditions of violence, famine, persecution? Would that not be the place to start internationally? So why doesn’t it happen? The United Nations operates as competing interests negotiating, dialoging, manoeuvring for their own advantage or interests. They do not know how to advocate for humanity as one whole. They use this forum to gain for themselves. Problem solving as a collective is not happening effectively. So people flee persecution because they have no choice. Who in their right mind would pay lots of money to risk their lives in a overcrowded leaky boat, desperate people would? So can we stop and hear their desperation and stop the politicking, the cleverness, the legal manoeuvring and actually look at the faces of those in pain, without a fearful story? Until we do we spend lots of money on programs that don’t work and end up being worse than the people they are fleeing. What makes this concerning is not the issue of abuse, it is the longevity of the issue of abuse. It has been known for a long time. Many stories have come out about the harrowing experiences of refugees who are treated as criminals. We see this as the legal instruments used to excise territory from Australia deliberately did this to say they were illegal immigrants. The word ‘illegal’ makes them to be wrong or criminal. That is how sleight of hand works through law. I ask the lawyers who drafted this, how do they sleep at night? How do they excise their humanity from their work? Until their humanity becomes their work, they are not serving others, they are serving themselves.

We say we live in a democracy. We say people are equal. We say all have a right to a say. But if they are not citizens those rights evaporate? Are they rights or values of who we are? Do we accord people equal rights to their say because all people are equal? Or is it only applicable under false borders we created to annex land and say it is ours. I could go deeper on this given the planet is 4 billion years old and the very notion of ownership. However, in the current mindset we still see nationalism and our rights and our jobs as our own selfish vision looking out at a world that seems threatening rather than a world that are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children – just like us. If you haven’t travelled the television will be your information and you will believe what you hear. Until we stretch beyond this and start to ask critical questions, abuses will happen. We all must act to say no to abuse not only here in Australia but worldwide. If you were the refugee what would you want? I wonder at the knowledge and humanity of our politicians because that is what the world is really looking at? Who are we?

Children evoke our compassion as we have children. Note the adults are abused too. I recall clowning in a Detention centre here in Melbourne many years ago. There were children in detention here. They were housed in a maximum security jail. I couldn’t believe it, they had prison guards from a private company. This is not appropriate for people in need. I recall them silently moving towards the prison gates to go inside. They were serving a jail term for wanting freedom. How ironic is that. I hugged and massaged the shoulders of many people that day. I had the guards and the Red Cross do a group hug, I sought to re-humanise the people in front of each other (this means to feel their human qualities). We so lose that connection. One becomes the guard the other the prisoner. Unbelievable.  What is amazing is that our government needs global scrutiny to decide to change, it doesn’t come through common sense or shared humanity.  That is the issue I am closing exploring. I see a disconnect between the intellectual capacity and emotional intelligence.  We over identify with thinking rather than feeling, that for me is the core issue.  Clowning for me was a way to inspire feeling.  It is about awakening empathy, seeing in the face of others family, this is the true humanity awakening.  We are losing our humanity in business and government, that is what I am increasingly aware of. I note my previous blog on Peace Pilgrim, all peace starts within, she was fearless and speaking out about peace on all levels. So these public exposures are a good thing for they show us where we are living in mindsets of abuse. The refugees are teachers to us, as they show through their innocence the darkness of abuse of those authorising it and carrying it out and indeed those believing it is justified. In truth there is darkness in all people when they see another as dehumanised. So truth makes us own our darkness.

Below is an article from The Conversation outlining issues around the abuse of children at Nauru.

Nauru abuse reports should mark an opportunity for compassion, not more dehumanisation


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Peter Dutton suggested asylum seekers in detention on Nauru have self-harmed in order to get to Australia. AAP/Dan Peled

Since The Guardian Australia released more than 2,000 leaked reports of abuse in the Nauru detention centre, there have been calls to do something – from a royal commission to public protests.

But what we need most is a call for immediate change to government policy. This call can only come from the Australian people.

The problem is, Australians have been so convinced by the strategic dehumanisation of asylum seekers the government and the media have undertaken over the past 15 years that, according to polls conducted during the 2016 federal election, 42% of voters agree with the continued offshore processing of asylum seekers.

Words and phrases such as “illegal maritime arrivals”, “boat people”, “terrorists”, “detainees”, “people smugglers” and “illegals” have filled discussions about people who attempt to seek asylum in Australia.

This language has enabled their dehumanisation to a point where almost half of the Australian population supported spending more than A$1 billion in a year to lock up roughly 1,500 people who committed no crime.

Political response suggests no change

The response of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to the release of the Nauru abuse reports exemplifies the continued attempts to dehumanise asylum seekers.

Dutton suggested those held in detention in Nauru have:

… gone to the extent of self-harming, and people have self-immolated in an effort to get to Australia.

By turning the blame back on those who are detained, describing them as willing to set themselves on fire in an attempt to get to Australia, Dutton is again positioning asylum seekers in a way that makes them unrelatable to Australians.

Rather than acknowledging the self-immolation and self-harm as a symptom of the desperation and hopelessness and a result of the significant mental trauma that has been inflicted on those held in detention, Dutton once again managed to dehumanise those held on Nauru in an attempt to ameliorate the compassion that is leading to the demand for changes to offshore processing.

Nauru is home to one of Australia’s offshore processing centres. People who have risked everything to attempt to travel to Australia to seek asylum from war or political and other forms of persecution are locked up and warehoused in indefinite detention with no hope for resettlement in Australia, and little hope for the future.

This is despite approximately 77% of those whose asylum claims have been processed having been recognised as legitimate refugees.

For many years, research has repeatedly demonstrated the long-term impacts of detention on people seeking asylum. There is compelling evidence from across the world that demonstrates the detrimental impact of detention on the mental and physical health of children and adults.

But despite the documented impact of detention, it continues as Australia’s policy and practice toward asylum seekers.

Lifting the veil of secrecy

Perhaps one of the most concerning aspects of Australia’s offshore processing facilities is the secrecy that surrounds them.

Journalists are virtually forbidden entry to Nauru; media visas cost A$8,000 per application.

The Australian Border Force Act enables the prosecution and possible imprisonment of any offshore detention staff member who speaks out about conditions in the centres on Nauru and Manus Island. This is one of the reasons why the Nauru abuse reports’ release has caused such a stir.

This leak has suddenly given Australians access to reports, notes and documents that illustrate the extent of the abuses the Australian government is enabling and perpetuating.

As a country, as taxpaying citizens, are we OK with a system that has resulted in seven reports of sexual assault of children, 59 reports of assault on children, 30 incidences of self-harm involving children, and 159 reports of threatened self-harm involving children – all in 26 months?

The reports provide hard evidence of something Australia and the world has known about for a long time. But they also provide startling proof of the scale and staggering incidence rates of the self-harm, assault and abuse that is being experienced.

The data is there, the evidence is there, and the outcomes have been proven with decades of research. Can the Australian people read of young detainees who sew the shape of a heart into their own hand using a needle and thread, or grab bottles of cleaning fluid in their classrooms and desperately drink it and not be affected?

What the reports may enable, through the detailing of the documented horrendous experiences of asylum seekers, is compassion from the Australian public. And through compassion it may be possible to overcome the decades of considered dehumanisation that have enabled the detention regime to continue.


Mohandas Gandhi

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”