4 Mar 2015

Violence committed by Nauru police - refugee advocate

1:21 pm on 4 March 2015

An advocate for the asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru has dismissed claims by the Nauru president that refugees are resorting to violence.

Nauru protest

Nauru protest Photo: supplied

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's 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 policemen and damaged a police vehicle.

But the Australian based Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul says that is not true.

"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."

The Nauru government and police are refusing to speak directly with the overseas media, with most of their press releases being written by a public relations firm in Australia.

Journalists are effectively banned from entering Nauru after the government hiked the visa charge, reportedly as a revenue gathering measure.

In January last year the non-refundable visa application fee for journalists was raised from 200 US dollars to more than 7,000 dollars.

Nauru protest

Nauru protest Photo: supplied