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  • Protesters occupy Australian Prime Minister Turnbull

    Protesters occupy Australian Prime Minister Turnbull's electoral office, demanding an end to the policy of offshore detention for asylum seekers, Sydney, Australia. | Photo: Reuters

For years there has been widespread criticism of the country’s approach to asylum-seekers, with routine reports of abuse and human rights violations.

A leak of over 2,000 documents from Australia’s offshore immigration detention center in Nauru Wednesday detailed widespread sexual abuse, assault and self-harm, with the majority of cases involving children who were detained.

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The documents, released by the Guardian Australia, include incident reports from the infamous detention center located in the tiny Micronesian island of Nauru, from August 2013 to Oct. 2015.

The disturbing incident reports included the sexual abuse and exposure to violence of children asylum seekers, with guards hitting and threatening to kill them.

Also documented in the incident reports were cases of asylum seekers swallowing rocks and sewing their lips together. The reports documented poor living conditions including restricted access to toilets, lack of hygiene with many asylum seekers living outside in tents.

The leaked reports documented seven incidents of sexual assault of children, 59 incidents of assaults on children, 30 incidents of children self-harming and 159 threats of children self-harming. While only 18 percent of the population in the Nauru center is made up of children, more than 51 percent of incidents involved children.

The 8,000 pages of incidents total the biggest-ever leak related to immigration detention in the Australia's history.

Human rights and refugee advocates noted the leaked incidents demonstrate neglect and poor management by Australian authorities and prove systematic abuse in the country’s highly secretive immigration detention regime.

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In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Australia’s hardline immigration detention policies have had bipartisan support and have helped fuel racism and xenophobia in a nation founded on the colonization of the Indigenous population by European settlers.

For years there has been widespread criticism of the country’s approach to asylum-seekers, with routine reports of abuse and human rights violations and international condemnation.

Asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia by sea are sent to immigration detention centers in Nauru and to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

The Australian government and the private security agencies running the detention center have played down the so called “Nauru Papers,” treating them as allegations rather than fact before a more thorough investigation takes place.

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