Refugees charged following unrest on Nauru

Nauruan police have insisted they acted within the law when they detained 183 refugees, including at least one child.

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The refugees were held overnight in police cells on Nauru after a series of demonstrations.

The arrests came amid escalating tensions on the island, where refugees released into the community said they were being treated as second class citizens.

A 13-year-old boy was among those arrested by Nauruan authorities, which claimed he threw rocks and injured a police officer.

Police said all those arrested were released on bail, with at least 10 expected to appear in court later this month on charges of unlawful assembly.

One of the refugees living on Nauru with her mother and sister, 23-year-old Iranian Sahar Ashouri, said she fears for their safety.

“It is dangerous and frightening and I am afraid to go out of the house,” she said.

“They don’t want refugees. We were protesting and we were crying, but they locked (us up).”

Nauru’s deputy police chief, Superintendent Kalinda Blake denied refugees were being targeted.

“There is no different laws for refugees and different laws for Naruans, they are the same,” she said.

“Gathering in groups there is a criminal code for unlawful assembly for three or more persons.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the refugee demonstrations will have no influence on the Australian government’s policies.

Meanwhile, advocates say the current unrest increases their concern for the more than 100 children who remain in the detention centre on Nauru.

The Tamil Refugee Council’s Trevor Grant claimed one four-year-old girl had lost 15 per cent of her bodyweight, hardly eats and is in constant distress.

“It is just a terrible existence for kids,” Mr Grant said.

“She noticed some of the people on Nauru were being sent back to Australia for various medical problems, such as a broken leg or broken arm and when she was told this she said, ‘Mummy, can you please break my arm so I can go to Australia?'”