December 11, 2012
A detainee charged over unrest in the camp attends yesterday’s court hearing on Nauru. Picture: Clint Deidenang Source: The Australian
FOUR asylum-seekers have been flown off Nauru in recent weeks for urgent medical treatment, with three of the men still in Australia.
The Immigration Department yesterday confirmed that four asylum-seekers had been flown off the island since the detention centre reopened in September — two more than had been previously reported.
All were transferred for medical reasons. Three were transferred via Care Flight, suggesting their cases were serious. A fourth was flown via a commercial aircraft.
One of the men, 35-year-old Iranian Omid Sorousheh, was flown back to Nauru yesterday after he was treated in a Brisbane hospital for complications arising from an extended hunger strike.
Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said two of the four stricken asylum-seekers, including Mr Omid, were flown off Nauru after engaging in a hunger strike.
A third was flown off for what Mr Rintoul described as “mental-health issues”.
He was unaware of who the fourth asylum-seeker was or why he was flown to Australia.
News of the medical transfers came as asylum-seekers faced court yesterday on charges of assault and affray following a series of disturbances in the troubled detention centre on Nauru.
A spokesman for the Nauru government, Rod Henshaw, said five of the 10 asylum-seekers charged over the incident appeared in the Nauru District Court yesterday to face a range of charges. The remaining five did not appear for medical reasons, Mr Henshaw said.
The charges stem from a series of incidents including a major disturbance shortly after the centre opened and a fight with guards a few weeks ago.
Tensions in the Nauru centre have been simmering since it opened in September. A small group of asylum-seekers, understood to be Iranian, have reportedly been causing trouble, with claims they have boycotted the processing arrangements and have been intimidating others to do the same.
It is understood that the problem has been attributed to 20 or so Iranian asylum-seekers intent on having their claims processed in the Australian system even though asylum claims are being processed on the island by Australian officials.