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Protests on Nauru continue

Monday 2 March 2015 | Published in Regional


YAREN – More than 100 refugees from camps right across Nauru staged their second protest in three days on Sunday afteroon.

Nauru houses more than 1000 of Australia’s asylum seekers and more than 100 have been declared refugees and allowed to live and work in the community.

The protest was held in front of Beach House, the main office of Connect, the Australian contracted service provider, and lasted an hour between 4 and 5pm.

The spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul, says 300 refugees staged a protest on Friday, prompting police to set up a roadblock to prevent the march proceeding.

Five people were reportedly treated after being punched in the face or pushed to the ground.

The rally came at the end of the first week of a campaign of non-cooperation that has seen boycotts of schools, English classes, and refugees quitting their jobs.

Rintoul says more rallies are planned.

The Australian Department of Immigration has confirmed there had been a protest on Nauru, but an official did not comment on the injury claims.

“The matter was dealt with by the Nauruan police force, which is responsible for the safety and good order of Nauruan society,” the official said.

“The Australian government remains committed to the processing and resettlement arrangements in place on Nauru.”

Tension is mounting between locals and refugees, Nauru photographer Clint Deidenang said this week.

There are reports from Nauru that refugees who had got work on the island have left the jobs after a threatening letter was distributed a week ago.

The letter says the refugees should leave their jobs, stop wandering around the island and stop fraternising with Nauruan women.

It says they should go away or “bad things will happen”.

There have already been a number of serious assaults on refugees, RNZI reports.

The Nauru government suggests the refugees themselves may have written the letter but Deidenang, who works as a photo-journalist there, says he is certain it was penned by a Nauruan.

He says there is a significant minority on the island supporting some of the sentiments in the letter, including him.

“Nauruans are not used to living with people from different cultures – this multicultural thing is not working in Nauru.” he said.