A 12-month-old asylum seeker and her family are in a deadlock with the Australian government, trying to fight against orders that they return to the detention center where the baby suffered burn injuries.
Baby Asha was being treated at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital for burns sustained at an offshore Nauru detention center, according to the Australian immigration minister.
The government wants to send the child and her family back, but the hospital staff, who engaged in a 10-day standoff, refused to release the 1-year-old until Asha was discharged into a home environment.
Hundreds of people protested against the detention of children, with a vigil outside the hospital.
The protesters accepted the government’s initial plan to temporarily place the child in a community detention center in Australia, but now the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has said that the government’s intention is to return the baby to Nauru once legal and medical issues are dealt with.
“We are not going to allow people smugglers to get out a message that if you seek assistance in an Australian hospital, that somehow that is your formula to becoming an Australian citizen,” he said .
Police are investigating how the child suffered burns while in immigration detention in Nauru.
People are still protesting at the hospital to highlight the issue of children in offshore immigration detention. Detaining children indeed causes them psychological harm, and Asha has sadly become the victim of a shameful practice.
“What baby Asha's case has done is really put some perspective for the public, giving at least one child a face and a name,” Australian Medical Association President Brian Owler told ABC radio.
Vulnerable children have somehow become collateral damage in the government’s attempt to crackdown on asylum-seeker boats. These innocents surely deserve better than that.