“Where illegal Au Pairs are made legal and legal Asylum Seekers are made Illegal…the land of the FAIR GO” (ODT)
For the past month, Nima has been bedridden with severe depression and trauma. He has recently stopped talking and eating, communicating only with his fingers. The one-bedroom house he shares on Nauru with his partner, Ashkan, is always dark. His eyes can no longer tolerate light. “He is lying on a bed like a corpse,” Ashkan, a Kurdish refugee, told me last week. “Too sick even to go to toilet himself.”
I wrote about Ashkan and Nima a year ago, for The Monthly. The two men have been on Nauru for more than five years. Both have been recognised as refugees. Nima fled Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death, but instead of securing asylum in Australia he found himself on Nauru, where homosexuality is also illegal. He and Ashkan, who met on Nauru, have experienced harassment and homophobic attacks. They have both attempted suicide and live virtually imprisoned within their home.
Nima was suicidal before the Australian-United States refugee deal was announced. Briefly, it pulled him out of depression. But the deal has not changed his circumstances. “When we were in Iran, we lived under [President] Ahmadinejad,” Nima has told me. “When we fled Iran to come to Australia, we encountered Tony Abbott and then – what’s his name? – Scott Morrison, and, after, Peter Dutton. They told us to send us to America and now face Donald Trump. They play like a toy with us. We are human being, like every everyone else, we have also hope but they killed our hope, they took our lives, made us gone mad, made us sick and made us mental.”