Tensions continue to escalate on Australia’s offshore island detention centres, with a further series of assaults on refugees on Nauru and rising disquiet on Manus Island reported by sources.
On the Pacific island of Nauru, an Iranian refugee was stoned and then beaten by a group of local men riding motorcycles on Saturday. They threw rocks and swore at him before beating him and kicking him in the head.
Guardian Australia has seen photos of the man in hospital with one eye swollen shut by bruising and swelling on his head.
On Monday, a resettled refugee who had a job as carpenter on Nauru, was threatened by three local men who told him refugees were not allowed to work. He was told to quit his job or he would be killed next time he went to work. He has quit his job.
Other men have reported having cars swerve at them and being spat on in the street.
These attacks follow an assault last week on four teenage refugees, who are without parents on the island. One of the child refugees was taken to hospital. The four boys have not left their home unaccompanied since the attack.
“ ‘Fuck you, refugee’ is very common slogan these days in Nauru,” one refugee told Guardian Australia.
“The locals spit on refugees in public. They believe that there is not enough space in Nauru for the refugees and locals to live together. They think the refugees are taking the job opportunities and consuming all the resources in Nauru and they want to protect their country.”
Reports that an interpreter from Myanmar had been stabbed on Manus Island on Friday are “completely false”, according to the office of the immigration minister, Scott Morrison.
But Guardian Australia understands from sources on Manus that there have been several confrontations with guards and local contractors over the past month, increased cases of self-harm attempts by detainees, and more assaults by detainees on other detainees.
Each month, several men are choosing to be returned home rather than stay on the island. Several of those choosing to go home have been found by Australia to be refugees and face a “well-founded fear of persecution” if they go home.
One Manus worker told Guardian Australia: “The men say, ‘I am dying here on this island, I might as well go home and die in my own country. I will take the risk.’ And sometimes it is an extreme risk that they will be killed at home.”
“These men have been in detention for 15 months, many of them, they live behind huge fences and they are no closer to a resolution. They are constantly told, ‘Stay here forever, or go home.’
“It’s advertised on signs all over the camps: ‘Missing your family? Talk to IOM (International Organisation for Migration).’ These men despair, they are desperate and, eventually, they just give up and go home, even if they know it’s not safe.”