Australian authorities confirm reports of self-harm on Nauru | Pacific Beat

Australian authorities confirm reports of self-harm on Nauru

Australian authorities confirm reports of self-harm on Nauru

Updated 29 November 2012, 11:32 AEDT

Austalia's Immigration Department here has confirmed that asylum seekers on Nauru are self-harming.

It confirms what many, including Pacific Beat, have been reporting for weeks.

One detainee who spoke to the ABC by phone says that in the last day, 10 asylum seekers have cut themselves, and three more were doing so last night.

Another asylum seeker is in the Nauru General Hospital on a hunger strike, and his health is so poor that the Australian Government could be about to take over responsibility for his care.

Presenter: Tom Nightingale

Speaker: Muhammad, asylum seeker

TOM NIGHTINGALE: For some asylum seekers in the Nauru detention centre the situation is getting desperate.

MUHAMMAD: They are cutting different parts of body, some are cutting on their neck, some are making cut on their neck, some are making cut on their arm.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: This man called AM saying his name is Muhammad and that he's from Pakistan's tribal areas.

MUHAMMAD: Yeah right now one of the guys, he just came right now, he told me that the blood is coming continuously and 'til now they didn't stop any bleeding. (Speaks to someone in the background)

MALE VOICE (in the background): No, no (inaudible)

MUHAMMAD: No, 'til now, 'til now no doctor, and he refuse to be treated.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: Last week the Federal Government decided to release some asylum seekers in Australia on visas stopping them from working because processing centres overseas were overwhelmed with arrivals.

Mohammad says this led to yesterday's incidents.

MUHAMMAD: This is all because of the law that's implemented by the Australian Government. It is okay, it is okay for the law is same for all the asylum seekers. But they are treating asylum seekers in two ways. They are keeping us separate from those asylum seekers who are inside the detention centre of Australia going to release them and they are keeping us here. So this is the main cause of the, of the hurting, the asylum seeker of hurting themselves. This is the main reason.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: What is everyone saying about this?

MUHAMMAD: This is what we are seeing the same as we were facing there in our homeland, the same cruelty. Like they are the people who will be killed by the military, so here the people are hurting themselves and here we are being killed by Australian Government mentally. We are facing here mental torture so we are being killed mentally.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: An Immigration Department spokesman has told AM that 10 asylum seekers had self-harmed in the previous 24 hours to late last night. He described all but one of the cases as minor. The spokesman says the other case wasn't life threatening and the man will be assessed at the detention centre's clinic today.

But for at least one other detainee the situation is much more grave. A man from Iran has been on a hunger strike for nearly 50 days and is lying in a hospital bed on the island. Refugee advocates in Australia have been saying repeatedly that he's approaching death.

The doctor responsible for the asylum seekers on Nauru has declined to be interviewed and the Nauruan government has not responded to requests for information.

A government source in Australia has told AM the Nauru government could transfer the man into the care of Australian authorities who would begin rehydrating and feeding him.

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