Mixed reports abound in relation to Abyan.
Abyan is the 23-year-old pregnant Somali refugee who was raped in Nauru in July. She begged the Australian government for help because she was not able to access a medical termination in Nauru. The government stepped in last week.
She was transported to Australia last Sunday night and spent five nights in the Villawood Detention Centre. On Friday morning she was taken from her room in Villawood and flown back to Nauru on Friday night. Her lawyer had filed an urgent injunction to stop her removal but by the time the matter was heard Abyan had left the country.
The Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is adamant that Abyan changed her mind about seeking a termination and was consequently returned to Nauru on Friday.
Abyan’s lawyer George Newhouse disagrees. Newhouse says his client hadn’t changed her mind, but rather had sought counselling before making the decision.
She has released a short written statement saying she had not changed her mind about seeking a termination.
At this point it’s clear that Abyan has become a political football.
Her situation highlights the cruelty and lack of dignity that now characterises Australia’s treatment of and stance towards refugees. Are there people, on both sides of the political divide, exploiting Abyan’s case because of that? Yes.
Is that her creation? No. Does it negate the brutality and trauma she’s been subject to? No. Does it negate the fact she’s currently carrying a child that is allegedly the result of being raped? No.
The question I have is this. Why was she rushed out of Australia on Friday? Whatever the exact conversations and machinations that took place in the five days in which she was in the Villawood detention centre, what was achieved by removing her so quickly?
Did the government go to the lengths of chartering a RAAF flight to get Abyan out of Australia to escape a court hearing for an injunction to stop her removal?
This is a young woman whose mental and physical health is shaky. It is reported that she has last 10 kilograms in the past month. She was in the emergency department of a hospital in Nauru for two days just to be well enough to fly to Australia last week according to her lawyer. So why was Abyan put on a chartered flight back to Nauru so quickly?
It was a question that Radio National host Fran Kelly put to Minister Dutton several times earlier today. Each time he failed to answer it directly.
He didn’t waiver from his position, which was that Abyan, or ‘this lady’ as he referred to the refugee throughout the 18 minute segment, was provided with medical treatment, changed her mind on wanting an abortion and was consequently airlifted back to Nauru.
“The advice to me was absolutely clear: that the lady after all of this consultation, and the lady had decided this particular concern of action [not to terminate the pregnancy]… after the lady made the decision having received all of that consultation, the decision was then made to airlift the lady back to Nauru.”