Nauruan police have finally admitted that an Iranian asylum seeker was savagely attacked last Saturday night, 16 May.The 23 year-old female Iranian asylum seeker had been stripped, seriously bashed and robbed. A sexual assault has not been confirmed, and the police have not been able to interview the victim.
But after three days of denials, in the face of growing anger and the women’s protest, the Nauruan police finally back-flipped and admitted the obvious.
A group of police attended yesterday’s protest (Tuesday 19 May) at Beach House, announcing that they did accept that the Iranian woman had been attacked.
“We will find and catch the people who did this,” the police told the protest.
But finally admitting the obvious is cold comfort for refugees. When refugee women asked about their safety – police told them to ‘look after yourselves.’
It is clear that without the protest, there would not have been any police response.
But it was more than the protesters got inside Beach House from the boss of Connect, the Australian funded service providers. Connect had shrugged off the attack, saying all they would do is pass their question to those who are in charge.
“The Connect response was a disgrace and the police admission is a case of too little, too late,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “Too many complaints have been ignored. The attackers act with impunity, knowing they will never be pursued by the police.”
“The Nauruan police are both unwilling and unable to protect refugees from attacks. Indeed the police themselves have been responsible for attacking refugees.”
Meanwhile those responsible for the attacks are free to taunt and terrify the refugees. Nauru is too small for refugees to avoid those who are responsible.
In an attempt to cover-up the abuse of asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru, the government has recently shut down Facebook and introduced laws banning free speech and the right to assembly.
“But the truth is out,” said Rintoul, “Nauru is unsafe. This attack adds to the revelations that are emerging from the Senate enquiry into the Moss report of sexual and physical abuse on Nauru.”