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“The Salvation Army has told asylum seekers on Nauru it will limit their internet access to 30 minutes every two days, not allow swapping of allocated time between them, or even allow one friend to help another with the internet, and spare computers cannot be used. Previously asylum seekers had been allowed to swap with each other which helped them communicate their families at times they were contactable.
Importantly asylum seekers had agreed amongst themselves, that Mahdi Vakili the Iranian asylum seeker who manages the Facebook page “Asylum Seekers on Nauru” could have two hours every morning and evening to get their stories out.
Using the internet has often been the only way asylum seekers on Nauru have been able to communicate their horrific conditions and publicise their protests and hunger strikes, as media have been barred from the detention centre.
Asylum seekers on Nauru have gathered over 300 signatures on a petition calling for their previous internet use arrangements to be reinstated.
The Salvation Army claims it is playing a humanitarian role ‘providing emotional support and practical assistance’. But they are making the decision to stop refugees communicating the truth about what is happening on Nauru and the stories of asylum seekers themselves. Reinstating the previous internet arrangements, and allowing Mahdi to update the asylum seekers’ Facebook page, would help the asylum seekers much more any emotional support: by helping build pressure on the government to end the policy of dumping asylum seekers offshore and to close Nauru and Manus Island.
Salvation Army Australia