Refugee Family Left Angry After A Current Affair Visits Nauru

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The tabloid news program has gained rare access to the island, but one family they attempted to speak to has been left unhappy by the interaction. Max Chalmers reports.

A family of refugees has been left anxious about their safety on Nauru after they were filmed by a media crew that appears to be from Channel Nine’s A Current Affair program.

Refugee advocates began sharing images yesterday showing a female journalist recording a piece to camera with a cameraman and sound technician in front of the detention centre.

Though initially declining to answer questions, Channel Nine has now confirmed that A Current Affair was granted access to the Australian backed detention centre, and will broadcast a story about the visit on Monday.

Rana Dayni, a Lebanese woman who set up a restaurant on Nauru after being released from detention, was surprised and distressed to see the film crew arrive at her outlet yesterday. She said the crew were accompanied by members of the Nauruan police force and a government official.

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According to her account, backed by others who debriefed with her later, the crew left after it was made clear she did not want them filming. Dayni’s family have had trouble from other refugees who did not agree with their decision to keep the restaurant open the day Omid Masoumali died. The family also previously had a bad experience with an Australian media outlet, and said the story was twisted to help portray Nauru as a pleasant place for refugees to live. Afraid of this happening again, Dayni declined to be filmed.

“I am sick now, and I have four boys, [life is]not easy here,” she told New Matilda. “I am a strong lady but now I am sick.”

Yet when the tv crew returned later in the day, ostensibly to interview men working on the restaurant’s construction, they allegedly filmed Dayni and the restaurant as well. She was left distressed.

“I am very, very angry from yesterday. I can’t sleep today. Tonight I am very sick,” Dayni said.

Contacted for comment this morning, A Current Affair refused to confirm or deny if they had a crew on the island.

UPDATE: A Current Affair reporter Caroline Marcus described the account above as a “false report” in an op-ed published Monday morning.

“On our second day on the island, I interviewed an Iranian refugee, Mustafa, who co-owns a beachfront business named, somewhat poignantly, Bondi Beach Restaurant,” Marcus wrote.

Mustafa wanted to speak to us about his many problems, from issues accessing specialist medical care for a growth in his mouth, to his best friend Omid Masoumali’s suicide by self-immolation in April, to his own self-harm that he says landed him in jail.

I’d been interviewing Mustafa for about 10 minutes when an older female refugee ran over screaming and accusing our cameraman of filming her. Despite our best attempts to calmly explain we weren’t, she and two other refugees angrily chased us off the property, telling us to “f*** off”.”

But Channel Nine has since confirmed that the show will broadcast a story about Nauru on Monday. At deadline, they had not responded to questions about the interaction with Dayni and her family.

“We’ll take you inside the Australian-run regional processing centre on the Pacific island nation of Nauru,” a Channel Nine media release said.

“It marks the very first time that a television crew has been granted access to the controversial facility.”

“Our cameras will bring you exclusive footage on how asylum seekers and refugees are really living.”

The network described it as “a story that will stun Australia”.

Journalists, lawyers, and refugee advocates have been kept out of Nauru in recent years, with even those prepared to pay the exorbitant $8,000 visa application fee for journalists refused entry. The last person working for a media outlet to visit the island was Chris Kenny, a former chief-of-staff to Malcolm Turnbull who is now a contributing editor to The Australian newspaper.

Earlier in the week, Coalition campaign spokesperson and Minister Mathias Cormann insisted that journalists should not be allowed to visit the detention camps on Nauru or Manus Island as this would allow information to be shared with people smugglers.

How exactly Nine managed to secure visas for its reporters remains unclear at this point in time.

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Max Chalmers

Max Chalmers is a former New Matilda journalist and editorial staff member. His main areas of interest are asylum seekers, higher education and politics.

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