Letters from Nauru
Disturbing accounts come to light about conditions in the island’s detention centre

The following letters, written by asylum seekers on Nauru in the past three months, were provided to the Monthly. They are accounts of conditions in the detention centre on the island and the state of mind of those detained in it.

We are publishing them because we believe the right to be heard is fundamental. It is the least asylum seekers deserve, particularly those detained indefinitely.

These are informal translations of the original texts, which have also been provided to the Moss review.

Both major parties have pledged never to allow the authors of these letters to be resettled in Australia.

– Nick Feik, editor of the Monthly

Letter 11

I write this letter just for your understanding about your government and your country.

It is now 15 months we have lived in an Australian detention centre. Before I fled Iran I was a very successful person. I was expert in IT and passed the below certificates: Network+, Security+, CCNA, CEH, ISO, ISMS,CSSIP, MCTIP, BackTrack, Solarix, CMS Joomla. I have 15 years’ experience in the IT field.

I have worked in the application of wireless sensor network applications in the irrigation of agricultural fields, because I studied agriculture and have a B.Sci of agriculture. I was implementing a new method for cultivating agricultural crops even in the desert, using solar energy.

Three weeks ago I started my hunger strike and I have eaten only biscuits during this period and from today I stop eating anything in order to kill myself because I feel that this is the end of my life. Every human being who when seeing the suffering of his children and his wife and who cannot do anything for them – this life means zero.

I imagined that Australia is a very good country because all people there are equal and there is no discrimination. I thought that Australia keeps human rights for every human being. I imagined that Australia gives compassion to children and women. I thought that Australia is a Christian country, and the fundamentals of Christianity are based on compassion and love and kindness.

I fled from Iran. Iran is a country with a fanatical Islamic government. In Iran I was in prison because of my opposite opinion. During that time I lost everything in my life but at that time I still believed in God and I had hope for the future and when I was released from prison I started to work so hard to recover all the things in my life. But in that difficult life I never thought to kill myself.

But now in your detention centre I wish that God would take my life as soon as possible because I can’t bear to see suffer my son and my wife in such bad conditions of life.

Nine months living in a tent in 40 degrees.

Shower for three minutes.

All the ceilings of the tents coated with black mould. And the most important of your officers treat us like animals. And your Immigration behave like we are ignorant and stupid animals exactly like sheep.

Yes, your country has started a new slavery age. Scott Morrison is a racist person. He discriminates between human beings and it must be taken to court. If you don’t do this, we understand your country is equal with a third world country and your government is a dictator and cruel and your country has started a barbarian age. Maybe this letter will be my testament.

Your government drove me to a point where I have doubted God and Jesus Christ because I didn’t see any kindness and compassion in its devil’s eyes. Your government made me rubbish and put me on the rubbish island.

God bless all of us.

Pray for us.

Letter 9

I am a [redacted]-year-old girl that left Iran with my family and was separated from my father and brother. They were arrested by police in Indonesia and were held prisoner. During our escape my mother and I had very difficult days and finally arrived on Christmas Island. Six months in Aqua camp on Christmas Island, and after that we were transferred to Nauru. We have been living for eight months here in difficult and intolerable conditions. I got tired, I’m tired of this much unfairness, putting up with burning sun in Nauru, lack of hygiene in camp, my feet not having enough strength to walk on the small and big gravel rocks any more.

Myself, as a [redacted]-year-old girl, I suffer from hearing the word ‘suicide’ from those little children who don’t even know and don’t understand the meaning of this word. When I see my compatriots who are trying to commit suicide, sewing lips together, and now I watch grating scenes that I couldn’t watch before, even in movies, yes, I’m watching these real scenes closely. Is this my right?

Is this called justice? What is the difference between people on Nauru and Christmas Island? All came after 19 July, all arrived at Christmas Island. If the law is the same for all, please send our word and voice to authorities: this is unfair!

Letter 5

Nauru conditions with regard to hygiene, nourishment, medical care and education are absolutely dreadful. There isn’t safety for us, especially for children.

Children here play with gravel on the ground and try to imitate officers, ambulance drivers or crews, doctors and illnesses and fights. Children are under serious mental pressure and during the last few days people started protesting and asking for justice, freedom – and so many of them are mothers, children, teenagers. Girls and boys, men and women, are trying to commit suicide, sewing their lips together, and our children are watching all this, seriously nervous.

Most of the children are sick and suffering from fever, and coughing which has been caused by phosphate and lack of hygiene.

Our living circumstances here are worse than an animal’s – no doors, no walls, no privacy living in noisy tents. Children are getting more violent, nervous and aggressive. Parents don’t have any solution to improve the situation and every day they have to answer their question: “Why are we in jail and have not been set free?”

All the women are depressed, men are angry and nervous, all the psychologists are involved but they don’t show any reaction.

There’s no warm water, so children have been showered with cold water by their parents, which makes their illness worse.

Most of the women have vaginal infections and some of the people are suffering from nervous asthma that severe heat makes worse. Laundries are closed and people have to wash their clothes in the heat and by hand, which is very difficult.

No one responds to so many cruel acts against children – every one of us is being tortured. Our tents are houses of spiders, lizards, mouses and cockroaches, and women get panicked by them and they can’t sleep well at night. Officers look at us angrily, they give us the feeling we are criminals and murderers.

Who is responding to these dangerous consequences that children are facing in the future? Our children’s hands and eyes are expecting and looking to your compassion, truth, help and freedom forever.

What is our sin?

What is our crime, to keep us prisoner for 15 months?

Letter 7

It’s become tense and grating and has made people commit suicide, such as seven people eating washing powder; cutting wrists with razor, done by seven underage teenagers; eating washing powder, by a 15-year-old girl who was sent to Australia for treatment and caused her big problems in her vocal system and lungs; sewing lips together and stopping eating (three of them are underage).

No one is in a proper mental condition and they might hurt themselves more. Why are people in Nauru being treated unfairly? Are we different from others, that we have to live in such a bad situation here? And at the end the TPV doesn’t include us!

So where is justice?

Please help us and pray for us!

1 Corinthians 14

Letter 14

“This is a will for a lady who was trying to commit suicide”

My darling, I apologise to you deeply that I’m leaving you. My nice husband, I love you, again and again I begged Jesus but I don’t know why the Father has forgotten us as He forgot the Jews in the Second World War.

My kind husband, I’m leaving here to open heaven’s gate. To you and others, please excuse me.

I’ve never understood the meaning of this sentence: “The one in authority is God’s servant to do you good” (Romans 13: 4).

We have always respected the law even when we were near to death, were fleeing.

We are seeking refuge in a country where there is a lot of wisdom, compassion and freedom among its people, but their rulers have stone hearts. They were called but they don’t know Jesus, they are spending people’s money imprisoning and torturing women and kids in detention.

Do you remember living a year in 45-degree heat with a small fan? Sometimes with no water to drink and shower.

Do you think my soul will go to my parents? If you could talk to them, tell them, “Your daughter will come to kiss your feet.”

I’ve been crying a lot which causes me headaches, my darling, my darling, I love you, I love you, I will be waiting for you in a peaceful place. Don’t rush, I am counting the time, but don’t rush!

I’m not worried about my body, you know what to do!

I love you.

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