19 October 2015
by John Passant

Close down Australia’s cities to save Abyan?

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have sent Abyan, the Somali woman raped on Nauru and now 14 weeks pregnant, back to the concentration camp there without any access to a counsellor, interpreter or solicitor, let alone a doctor while here in Australia.

Dutton and Turnbull claim she decided against an abortion. That is not what her solicitor or refugee advocates say. According to Tom Allard in the Sydney Morning Herald it is not what Abyan says.

But of course nothing speaks of a male dominated society more than male Ministers, denying a woman a voice to tell us her side of the story, and them then telling us what that woman wants, especially what she wants in relation to her own body.

The Turnbull and Dutton version of events also just happens to fit their political narrative of brutalising asylum seekers. Abyan has been found to be a genuine refugee. She fled rape in Somalia. She was raped on Nauru. The Turnbull government returning her to Nauru is the third leg in her abuse.

We should not be surprised by this government brutality. Abusing asylum seekers and refugees is government policy. The government will sink to all sorts of lows to defend this policy because it thinks that it is a vote winner and helps more generally in winning workers to their side, even as they attack wages, conditions, jobs and public services.

A large minority of Australians reject these rotten barbaric refugee policies. We turn out to demonstrations. We sign petitions. We build the refugee movement. However as Dutton said in relation to the outpouring of shock the treatment of Abyan has produced, no amount of petitions, phone calls and other pressure is going to make him change his mind.

Which invites the question – can we escalate the pressure on Dutton and Turnbull to save Abyan and bring her back to Australia for an abortion? The one tactic the refugee movement hasn’t tried to date, apart from activists undertaking essentially stand alone actions, is arguing for and then trying to mobilise the thousands who turn out to rallies around a specific call for civil disobedience. My suggestion is that the left begin agitating to occupy the centre of the capital cities until Abyan is bought back to Australia for medical treatment and try to build just such a movement in the next week.