The ABC is reporting that former President of Nauru, Sprent Dabwido, has sought asylum in Australia whilst here for medical treatment. Dabwido claims he was unable to get treatment for cancer on Nauru as the current government would rather see him dead.
Dabwido was President of Nauru during negotiations with the Gillard government that saw Australia re-open its immigration detention centre on the Pacific island nation.
The irony is thick. The Australian government has spent the week resisting legislation that would compel them to bring refugees held on Nauru to Australia for medical treatment.
The government of Nauru, propped up by the Australian government, is increasingly authoritarian. Former president Sprent Dabwido is one of the ‘Nauru 19’, a group charged over a political rally held outside Nauru’s Parliament in 2015. The 19 were among hundreds of demonstrators who objected to the Nauruan government banning opposition MPs from taking their seats in Parliament because they had given interviews to foreign journalists.
The government of Nauru hired an Australian magistrate to try the Nauru 19 for “rioting”. During the trial the government systemically obstructed attempts by the Nauru 19 to retain legal representation, and repeatedly defied orders by the court to fund a legal defense. When the court threw out all charges last year, the Republic of Nauru government announced it would “correct the law”.
Nauru today is little more than an Australian client state, propped up by aid dollars and the revenue reaped from Australian run detention centre. The Republic of Nauru has happily bent to any accommodate any requirement that the Australian government might have so long as it maintains access to this revenue. Democratic process, the rule of law, and any notion of a free media have gone out the window, all in order to prevent threats to this revenue.
The Australian government is more than happy to ignore rampant abuses and the decline of democracy in this bankrupt client state so long as its detention centre remains open. For the Australian government, its border security theatre, perpetrated for the benefit of its domestic political position, is far more important than any notion of Nauruan sovereignty.
- Nauru: a nation in democratic freefall propped up by Australia, Anne Davies and Ben Doherty, The Guardian, 2018.
- Nauru rapes: ‘There is a war on women’ , Martin McKenzie-Murray, The Saturday Paper, 2015.
- Nauru’s president Baron Waqa and justice minister allegedly bribed by Australian phosphate dealer Getax, Alex McDonald and Hayden Cooper, ABC, 2015.