When a 6yr old says her name is ‘EZB037’, something is very very wrong

During my first visits to the Nauru “regional processing centre” in 2014, I knelt down to speak with a six year-old girl. Asking her name, I was disturbed when she answered with a boat number, “EZB037.” Believing she misheard, I asked again, only to hear the same letters and number repeated. We can only imagine what brings a young girl to replace her name with an identification number.

Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR regional representative in Canberra

This account was part of a report by Albrecht (who has worked for the UNHCR for 30 years) published in the Guardian on 2/10/17 under the title: Australia’s refugee policy is a failure. This is not the time to shirk responsibility.

And yet, no one with any responsibility for this situation has – before or since – demonstrated any shame or concern in relation to the reality of the offshore processing and mandatory detention policies that have bipartisan support in the Australian parliament.

Not even when, 20 months prior to the Guardian report, the following was quoted during the parliamentary Grievance Debate on asylum seekers, Feb 2016:

In December 2014, a paediatric nurse and I travelled to Nauru to consult on children in detention. The conditions we witnessed typified those described by Goffman as occurring in institutions such as asylums, prisons and concentration camps, which he characterises as causing ‘mortification of the self’. Detainees lacked privacy. Families were housed in adjoining tents, and guards walk in without warning. Showers and toilets were up to 120m away. At night, the long dark walk under the eyes of guards was enough to deter many women and children, who wet the bed, then put the mattress out to dry in the sun. Shower time was limited; guards would offer longer if women exposed themselves. There was constant bullying and humiliation. We also observed dehumanisation and denial of personhood: children and adults coming to the medical centre are referred to by their boat numbers.

Anna Burke, Labor MP
quoting from Professor David Isaacs’ 
Are healthcare professionals working in Australia’s
immigration detention centres condoning torture?

Journal of Medical Ethics, British Medical Journal

What Ms Burke didn’t have time to quote aloud were the words that followed. (The full BMJ article, along with numerous other pieces of similar documentary evidence, has been available to the Australian parliament since that debate.) Professor Issacs continued …

When we asked why, we were told ‘there are too many Mohammads’. Such acceptance of the normalisation of dehumanisation by healthcare professionals has been described previously. One woman confided she had been raped at night by a cleaner, but did not want her husband to know. We organised for a female psychologist to see her. Next day, the psychologist described how the woman dressed provocatively and described asking her why she had not cried out when being raped. This victim-blaming approach typified how many International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) staff had come to see people seeking asylum as guilty and unworthy of normal human consideration.


Thanks to …

The Prime Minister
Malcolm Turnbull  email here      ph: 02 6277 7700

The Minister responsible for Immigration and Border Control
Peter Dutton  email here       ph: 02 6277 7860

The Federal Opposition Leader
Bill Shorten – email here      ph: (02) 6277 4022

Your Federal MP
whose contact details are at this link

And THEY don’t care about a girl called EZB037 or a woman who was raped by a detention centre cleaner and blamed for it by a government-contracted psychologist.

Right now they’re letting a man die a slow and excruciating preventable death on Nauru. Because of their policy.

Is this YOUR policy?

If not, tell THEM.

4 Replies to “When a 6yr old says her name is ‘EZB037’, something is very very wrong”

  1. This is the disgusting policy of both major parties, along with Australian Conservatives, ONP, and the way Xenophon often votes.
    Vote with your conscience this year.

    1. I find it horrific that both major parties think that the politics of cruelty and fearmongering are acceptable. Only those who desire power for themselves and have no interest in serving or empowering others would have such a perspective.
      If anyone knows of a POLITICIAN with a conscience, they should approach them directly and encourage them to do what is right and not what is dictated by their caucus. If any of the current MPs or Senators want any kind of legacy not mired in shame … OR if they basically just feel they should be doing their job … they wouldn’t tolerate these policies. Nor the lies that go with them.
      If your MP/Senators are getting all their info from Dutton’s office, set them straight. All our posts and pages have links to reports/evidence/documentation from valid sources about the real picture. So check out the post on “Myths/Spin/Lies? … “; the pages under ‘READ’ (Financial Cost; US Resettlement Deal, Manus Island Detention etc.) and others and let YOUR representatives know what’s really happening. Maybe someone in Parliament House will finally realise they can’t stomach this hate and inhumanity any longer like the rest of us.

    1. Nor mine, Rae. We need to do what we can to encourages other to stand up and say the same. But if that’s not possible, I suppose we’ll just shout a little louder for longer. Until THEY listen. And DO SOMETHING.

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