Urgent action on Nauru abuse

nauru vigilUnitingJustice is calling on congregations to write to their local MP in response to the Nauru Files.

More than 2,000 incident reports were leaked from the Nauru detention centre and published in Guardian Australia last week. They detailed harrowing stories of abuse, trauma and self-harm.

UnitingJustice national director Rev Elenie Poulos urged church members to call, email and write to MPs and demand an end to state-sanctioned abuse.

“Christians are called to stand against injustice and care for people in need,” Ms Poulos said.

“There are people on Nauru who desperately need our help. Please help end the violence by calling on the government to close the camp and bring people here for the best care we can offer.”

UnitingJustice has a letter-writing guide to assist congregation members who wish to contact their MP.

Some suggestions include:

  • The letter should begin with an explanation of who you are and why you are writing to the MP. If you are a member of their electorate, make this clear.
  • Make sure you set out your arguments logically and concisely. Make one point per paragraph.
  • Being polite and respectful in your letter is far more likely to achieve positive results than being aggressive or abusive.
  • To end your letter, state specifically what you would like the MP to do about the issue you have raised.
  • If you have not received a response to your letter after a month, call the MP’s electoral office to remind them about your letter and politely ask when you are likely to receive a response.

The Nauru Files received coverage in many global media outlets and drew condemnation from the United Nations, who called on the Australian government to close its offshore detention centres.

Despite this, immigration minister Peter Dutton has dismissed the seriousness of the allegations and accused refugees of self-harming in order to get to Australia.

Shayne Neumann, the shadow minister for immigration, indicated that Labor will seek to establish a parliamentary inquiry into allegations of sexual assault and child abuse on Nauru.

More than 40 public actions will take place this week as protestors hold vigils outside the office of Liberal and Labor MPs. They are organised by a coalition of refugee advocates, including Love Makes a Way, Grandmothers Against the Detention of Refugee Children and Mums4Refugees. Protestors will post large, coloured paper dolls outside the offices to symbolise the refugees who have suffered trauma and abuse in detention.

A list of Victorian vigils is listed on the Love Makes a Way website.

There will also be a rally outside the State Library of Victoria on Saturday 27 August at 1pm.      Uniting Church members are invited to attend the rally and call for the closure of Nauru and Manus Island detention centres.

Image: Love Makes a Way/Flickr

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