Tuesday, 4 November 2008 5:30 AM

Aborigines and Samoans in Tense Situation Following Death

The Aboriginal and Samoan community in Logan City, Brisbane, Australia are in a tense situation following the death of an Aboriginal man allegedly at the hands of nine Samoan youths.

An article by Michael Wray in the Courier Mail reveals the uneasy situation hanging over the suburbs south of Brisbane.

According to the article, an uneasy truce hangs over the suburbs south of Brisbane as the Aboriginal community of Logan City prepares to bury one of its sons, the raw hatred and rage that erupted over the death of Richard Saunders, 38, on Sunday was never far from the surface.

Mr. Saunders died in hospital after he and two friends were allegedly attacked in a park by the accused, nine Samoans, aged 15 to 24.

According to the report, racial tensions are high and a group of Aboriginal protestors gathered outside the courthouse where the accused appeared in a closed court session. According to the Daily Telegraph, "fearing a major outbreak of race-fuelled violence, more than 40 police were at the court to diffuse tensions."

"Members of the group were shouting abuse at members of the Pacific island community" and Wayne Saunders, uncle of Richard Saunders, said that "all bets were off" with Maori and Pacific islander groups in the area after ugly scenes outside the court on Monday.

"These people have no respect for the first nation of this country," a clearly angry Mr Saunders said, adding he wanted any Pacific islander convicted of murder deported.

According to the Courier Mail report, support rose from the crowd of protestors with the call to have the accused deported along with comments like "Send them home in their boats" and then "With a hole in them".

As the nine remain in custody, the Polynesian community of Logan has rallied to apologise for the tragedy amid accusations its migrants have brought fear and violence to the streets of Logan.

Max Quanchi, senior lecturer in humanities at the Queensland University of Technology, said Pacific Island communities in Australia were the latest group to face the time-worn growing pains of assimilation', saying that "English is their second language, they've come from overseas and this is the same for all migrant people in a diaspora all throughout the world. They get the worst jobs at first, they're often discriminated against and they do cling, in the first instance, to people of their own language and culture group."

"Once they got that English and got better jobs they quickly moved out of little Italy and just disappeared into the wider community. That's going to happen to Pacific Islanders as well."

However, in the opinion of an aboriginal man present at the protest and a friend of the deceased, Samoans ignored the "colonial law" Aborigines had been forced to live by. He said, "We have Aboriginal law and that was here before colonization. Thou shall not kill, thou shall not steal." He added that Mr. Saunders' death was an offence to black and white Australians.

However, a member of the Samoan community, who asked only to be known as Anne, denied their youth was out of control, saying "We don't teach these boys to go out and do something like this."

According to media reports, the Logan City council's surveillance camera system had picked up footage of the incident and this was used to assist police with their investigations.

In the closed court session, the defendants were remanded in custody to reappear on January 20.

Letters to the Editor All Letters
By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province