A worrying trend?: 2nd refugee sets herself afire on Nauru

Two refugees in a row set themselves on fire in migrant processing centre on Nauru. This could be a worrying trend. How do you see this and how would you say Australia should react? read few comments.

Gerhard Hoffstaedter, Senior Research Fellow, Anthropologist, University of Queensland

This is indeed a worrying trend and says a lot about the mental state of detainees in offshore detention. With no time plan, no way out from woman’s land these people continue to bear the brunt of the Australian government’s border security policies. These policies have bipartisan support, only the Greens have voiced opposition, and broad based support in the wider Australian community. There is vocal opposition, but the policies are seen to be successful in deterring irregular boat arrivals and that remains the measure of success for domestic politics. However, most Australians do not know what conditions are like in the offshore detention centres and what refugee experiences are like. Both locations, Nauru and Manus in PNG, are off limits for reporters most of the time and thus only horror stories such as this one pierce the manufactured silence. Refugee advocates continue to argue for the dismantling of offshore detention but the politics of this are difficult. In an election year neither major party will move away from a proven policy of deterrence and likely continue to shift responsibility for refugees on our neighbours and private detention facility operators. For many Australians this means ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and this is where refugees figure in Australian politics, sadly.


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