PANIC AS ‘ALL FIT MEN’ ARE CALLED UP – Sunday July 21 2013

– Rioting asylum seekers caused $60 million damage to their Nauru camp hours after Kevin Rudd announced he had given a blank cheque to PNG to process boat people.
After three interpreters and three medical personnel were held hostage during the riot, all non-essential staff were flown back to Australia with the situation still tense as preparations were made to house 545 men in tents and nearly-finished accommodation near the camp the rioters torched.
Police were holding 130 asylum seekers yesterday with Nauruan justice officials vowing to prosecute them for rioting, assault and property damage. They face up to seven years jail.
Three asylum seekers were still being treated for injuries but their condition was stable.
Led by Iranians angry at the length of time their refugee processing was taking, the gang of 150 burnt down their new two-storey accommodation blocks, medical centre, water tanks and office.
Only a recreation centre, made of fire resistant material, remained standing after the night of violence with the government confirming the destroyed buildings were uninsured.
The riot had come after chaos had gripped the Nauruan government in the hours before the riot.
With tensions escalating during the week, including an assault on a centre worker who was attacked with boiling water on Thursday, Nauru’s Australian police commissioner Richard Britten had prepared contingency plans for an explosion of violence.
However, his preparations were dismissed by acting president David Adeang, who responded by suspending Mr Britten hours before the violence broke.
Nauruan sources said if Mr Britten’s warnings had been acted on, the damage may have been limited.
Instead Mr Adeang was forced to issue a call for all “strong and able men” to be deputised as a Nauru police force reserve to try to home back the violent asylum seekers at the processing centre gate.
Hundreds of Nauruans responded with MP Kieren Keke forced to call for calm after some attempted to attack asylum seekers.
When asked about Mr Britten’s suspension, an AFP spokesman yesterday said: “This is a matter for the Nauru government.”
The country’s justice secretary, who was processing the refugee claims, was suddenly replaced two weeks ago, with the change adding to tension at the centre. The riots were unconnected to Mr Rudd’s announcement.
“It is carnage, total devastation,” witness Clint Deidenang said of the damage to the centre. “All the the building but the recreation room are burned.”
It had been hoped impoverished Nauruans could have moved into the air-conditioned accommodation blocks after the government finished using the processing centre.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison raised questions yesterday of how the Rudd Government would manage its PNG deal after seeing a new camp in Nauru reduced to rubble.
Immigration Minister Tony Burke said: “We need to wait until we have all the facts on the table before we draw too many conclusions.
“But no one will advance their case behaving like this.” – Gemma Jones


About Jumpin' Jack Cash
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