Refugee advocate says Nauru violence report wrong
Australia's Refugee Action Coalition says there is no basis for Nauru government claims that refugees have been resorting to violence.
An advocate for the asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru has dismissed claims by the Nauru president that refugees are resorting to violence.
There have been a series of protests since Friday by many of the about 400 refugees now living outside of the Australian run detention camps.
They have complained about the slave like conditions they live in and the animosity of many Nauruans towards them.
Nauru president Baron Waqa says his government is sensitive to their grievances but it will not tolerate violence.
In a statement the government says the protestors threw stones, injured three police and damaged a police vehicle.
But the Australian based Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul told Don Wiseman that is not true.
IAN RINTOUL: Not at all. We have got photos and we have got footage of both protests. The only violence came from the police last Friday, where without any provocation at all they started punching people and knocking people to the ground, so the only violence that is in evidence anywhere is that that's being perpetrated by police in an attempt to stop people peacefully marching down the road.
DON WISEMAN: I will quote you what the President says. 'The refugees were safe in the country and talk to the contrary is blatant lies spread by Australian advocates and lawyers. What is your response to that?
IR: They know very well that that is not the case. After the protest last Friday Nauruan police went to the hospital because there were Nauruans at the hospital actually threatening refugees with a knife. And there are numerous incidents when the Nauruan police have had to respond. When the local Nauruans attacked a house and forcibly entered the house of unaccompanied young women. The Nauruan police attended that incident as well. The records of the Nauruan police would indicate very clearly that there have been a number of incidents including one in which one man lost his eye after being knocked off his bike. The evidence of where the violence has come from and how much of it is directed towards the refugees is in their own records.
DW: One of the peculiar things about Nauru is that it is very small, both physically and its got a small population, and it has now got 400 plus refugees - 4 percent of the population at least - this is a significant imbalance that has been introduced isn't it?
IR: Now look the Australian government is in the process of perpetuating a social disaster on Nauru. And it actually gets worse than that. If all the people [in the camps] on Nauru are eventually found to be refugees then you will have increased the adult population by 25 percent. So you would have 25 percent of people who are adults who are effectively a permanent underclass with no future on Nauru. The Nauruan government has denied them any permanent resettlement. So you have created a permanent underclass with a permanent basis of discontent. And that is something that the Nauruan government maybe didn't envisage when it initially signed up to Australia's deal, but it is quite clearly a dramatic and serious social problem, and one that will only get worse. I mean the longer the people are there without any future then the greater the level of discontent, the greater the social problems that Nauru has to address. It is simply not going to address that by attempts to use the police or Transfield emergency response teams to try to stifle protests. They aren't going to go away.
In the latest developments on Nauru police have placed draconian limits on the protesters, threatening them with arrest in groups of three or more, and charges carrying penalties of up to three years in jail.
The Refugee Action Coalition says today there have been a series of arrests, with as many as 150 refugees taken into custody.
Our phone calls to the Nauru police chief go unanswered.
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