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Issue #1708      October 28, 2015

Police aggression against pregnant refugee

The aggressive attempts by the Nauruan police to interview pregnant refugee rape victim Abyan reveal their complete lack of concern for the privacy and welfare of a sexual assault victim.

The actions of the Australian government and the Nauruan police have left Abyan exposed to retribution and vulnerable to further harassment and abuse.

The police and media visit to Abyan’s accommodation on Nauru left her in such a distressed situation that she asked if she could be taken into the detention compounds to gain some protection and security.

Such police harassment of a victim of sexual assault would not be tolerated in Australia. “Abyan’s safety on Nauru has been further compromised by the actions of the Nauruan police,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Nor should the foot-in-the-door “journalism” that was inflicted on Abyan and her friend on Nauru, be tolerated. “It is impossible to describe the distress, and even terror, inflicted on Abyan and her friend when they were photographed on Nauru.

“This new round of distress has only been possible because, against all expert professional advice, the Australian government returned Abyan to the place of her sexual assault; something that can only add to the anguish that surrounds her situation,” said Rintoul. “It is clear from everything that Abyan has said, and now from media reports from Nauru, that she has never declined having a termination. She continues to be a victim of the Australian government’s political agenda.

“It is imperative that the Australian government acts urgently to provide the medical care that she needs. Her mental and physical well-being remains at risk as long as she remains on Nauru.

“She should be brought to Australia, this time, with the sympathy, care and consideration that she was previously denied.”

It should be recalled when the then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison declared that asylum seeker Reza Barati was killed “outside the wire” at the Manus Island detention centre.

It was a low point of the former Immigration Minister’s career.

Peter Dutton should have paid more attention to Scott Morrison’s mistakes before having a Morrison-moment of his own, about the Somali refugee brought from Nauru, declaring that, “The woman has decided not to proceed with the termination.”

That is not the case.

He has become a victim of his own propaganda.

Peter Dutton took a political decision to remove Abyan without allowing her to consult with her lawyer; and without counselling and without the medical attention she needed.

The Australian government went to extraordinary lengths to remove Abyan to ensure that the decision to remove her could not be considered by a court.

It is Peter Dutton’s shameful political agenda that is being exposed.

Service contractors on Nauru are still warning Abyan not to contact Australian lawyers.

On more than one occasion, Dutton has insisted that people who are on Nauru and Manus “will not be coming to settle permanently in Australia”.

The people who have been brought from Nauru to Australia have come because they have been brought by the Australian government because there is no proper medical or mental health care on Nauru. For example, some of them have contracted TB at an Australian-run detention centre on Nauru; others have disabilities that render their life on Nauru intolerable.

Peter Dutton and the Immigration Department have treated Abyan abominably. The government’s respect for women has been revealed as a sham.

Abyan is still waiting for the medical attention she needs.


After seizing Abyan from Villawood on the morning of October 16, the Immigration Department flew her to Honiara, in an extraordinary and desperate effort to avoid court action that might have prevented her from being removed to Nauru.

A Federal Court hearing in Melbourne convened late that afternoon was told that Abyan was already out the country and that it was intended that she be flown from Honiara to Nauru later that night.

Abyan was brought from Nauru to Brisbane on October 11 in a distressed state. She was then flown from Brisbane to Sydney on October 12.

Despite being told that she would see in-house counsellors, she has not seen any counsellors or received any medical advice. At the time of her removal from Villawood, steps were underway for her to be able to consult with independent counsellors.

“At no time has Abyan indicated to any advisers that she longer intended to proceed with the termination. Abyan has not been properly medically treated since she was sexually assaulted,” says Ian Rintoul.

“The department has wilfully ignored the medical advice that Abyan not be returned to the place of her assault. They were in such a rush to get her out of the country they could not even wait for a flight to Nauru.

“I sat with Abyan at Villawood where she made it clear that she wanted to see counsellors regarding the termination of her pregnancy. She has been denied the right to seek advice from doctors. She said she wanted to thank all those who had helped her get to Australia, ‘from the bottom of my heart’ and hoped to be able to ‘regain my health, wellbeing and energy.’

“That hope has been ripped from her, by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.”

Abyan said at the time, “I cannot go back to where this happened to me; I cannot go to where I was raped. What happened to me there (on Nauru) is what caused me to run away from Somalia. What happened to me in Somalia is what happened to me there (in Nauru).”

“The department’s efforts to remove Abyan have solved nothing,” said Rintoul “She was brought to Australia because she needed urgent medical care. She has lost 10 kilograms in a month. She must be brought back to Australia, where she can get the treatment and care she needs.”

Next article – Syria – US & fantasy “stray missiles”

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