The men were held by Nauruan Police on Sunday night for “a minor disturbance” that resulted in damage to the kitchen, a tent and lighting facilities at the island’s temporary immigration centre.
Rod Henshaw, spokesman for Nauru’s government, said those involved were from Iraq and Iran, but represented only a small percentage of those being held at the facility.
“You have to understand these people are fairly frustrated,” Mr. Henshaw told Radio Australia.
“They don’t want to be here, they are here, so they are probably pretty cheesed off.”
Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen said there were no reports of injuries, but conceded the men may face repercussions for their actions.
“It will depend whether they are actually charged and convicted with anything,” he told Radio Australia.
“We can take that into account but this is a long way from that, and the Nauru police will make the decision as to whether they’re charged.
“And then obviously there’s a process which would lead to conviction or otherwise,” he said.
The first asylum seekers sent to Nauru under the government’s new offshore processing policy arrived last month, and 148 people are currently accommodated in the facility.
So far, several have asked to be returned to Sri Lanka but this is the first report of a disturbance.
Checking on progress
Mr. Bowen is scheduled to travel to Nauru and to the Australian government’s other regional processing centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea on Wednesday, to see how arrangements are progressing.
“This timely visit provides an opportunity for me to assess how our regional operations are proceeding and reaffirm in person Australia’s appreciation of Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s commitment to hosting these centres,” Mr. Bowen said in a statement.
Mr. Bowen said he would consult with a range of local stakeholders in both countries; meet with the President of Nauru, Sprent Dabwido and members of his government; and hold talks with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, his Attorney-General, Minister for Defence and other members of the PNG Government.
Source: The Pacific Island Report