November 17, 2014 | the guardian
In menacing letter, locals warn refugees against stealing jobs and fraternising with island women
Refugees on Nauru have been threatened again by locals, told to stop stealing jobs, having affairs with local women, and to leave the island or face “bad things happening”.
In an menacing anonymous letter left at the houses of all resettled refugees on Nauru, the “Youth of Republic of Nauru” warned refugees would continue to be attacked if they stayed on the island.
“Refugees are taking over all our job opportunities and spreading over our small congested community, making our lives miserable.
“Second big and very important issue is that Nauru is a conservative country, it is not a multicultural country so resettling refugees means that in[tro]ducing different culture from different countries [is a] mistake and the wrong decision of a few corrupt people from Nauru Government putting the lives, culture, customs, values of Nauru local people in danger.
“Our women, girls and teenagers are interested in refugees because of their skin, colour, face, and handsomeness. Our wives, sisters, and daughters are in contact with refugees and having affairs with them. We can never see our women having fun with refugees and neglecting locals.”
The letter is the latest in a string of attacks and threats against refugees sent to Nauru by Australia, including the bashing of a group of unaccompanied child refugees, which left one child in hospital.
Another man was stoned and then beaten by a group of local men, and taken to hospital with serious head injuries and his sight damaged.
“We warn refugees to go away of our country [sic] and just to hell with all you concerns, if not, get ready for the bad things happening and waiting ahead,” the letter said.
Refugees awoke on Monday morning to find the letter had been left at all the refugee camps, and at resettlement homes at Fly Camp, Anibare Lodge and Ijuw Lodge.
The threat is reflective of the growing tensions between local Nauruans and the transplanted refugees, many of whom are Iranian Muslims and Christians.
Local Nauruans resent the Australian government-funded accommodation given to refugees, which is luxuriant by island standards, with running water and 24-hour-a-day electricity.
As well, several refugees have found jobs on Nauru, mainly low-paying, manual labour positions. But on an island with 90% unemployment, this has been fiercely resented.
But the largest tension, Guardian Australia has been told, is over refugee men fraternising with island women, which has angered locals.
The letter is condemnatory of the Australian government dumping its “rubbish [refugees]” on Nauru, but is also reflective of Nauruans’ growing disaffection with their own government, widely seen as a corrupt cabal that has bankrupted the once-wealthy island state.
The Nauru government ran out of money in September and had its bank accounts frozen over unpaid debts. The government is almost entirely dependent on Australian aid to survive.
“We warn our corrupt government as well as Australian government to take away your rubbish [refugees] and leave our country, otherwise there can be worse situation for refugees [than] you can see these days. Our group network is working and keeps watching on all the activities of the refugees.”
The letter, which has been written on a computer and has no handwriting on any part of the document, issues an ultimatum to refugees: “We warn all the refugees working … to quit the jobs and stay back [out] of our community and also stop walking around in the island.”
One refugee on the island told Guardian Australia: “Refugees are so scared, frightened that nobody would leave the camp. All the parents … worry about their children because the kids need to go to school but safety and security … is a big concern.”
The Nauruan government has made efforts to defuse local hostility. The country’s president, Baron Waqa, told parliament after the child refugees were beaten: “I’m disheartened that the refugees are being attacked by the locals verbally and physically.”
The Australian government maintains that the welfare of refugees resettled on Nauru is a matter solely for the Nauru government.
But several arms of the United Nations, including the committee against torture, have told the Australian government that it is wrong, and that Australia has “effective control” of the camps and the living conditions, and that it is legally responsible for what happens to resettled refugees.
Victoria Martin-Iverson from the Refugee Rights Action Network said Nauruans were entitled to complain about their government’s deal with Australia, but that they should not take their anger out on the refugees.
“Both the citizens of Nauru and the asylum seekers are victims of the Australian government’s appalling human rights violations. Refugees are not safe on Nauru and must be brought back to Australia.”