A riot on a tiny island in the Pacific that killed no one would usually go unnoticed by the world.
But when some 100 asylum seekers burned down their shelters in an Australian refugee processing center Friday on Nauru Island, it did not. Instead, it drew attention to a new restrictive law made in Australia the same day banning "boat people" from living in the country.
"As of today asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia," said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in a statement announcing the law.
The asylum seekers did not revolt because of the new law, an immigration spokeswoman said. They may have not even known about it when the mayhem broke out.
They are stuck on the island without papers for Australia. The United Nations has called the conditions on Nauru "unbearable," noting that asylum seekers have been gone on hunger strike before because of them.
Their alternatives: Go back to where they came from, places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, or wait in limbo on a lonely island.
The unrest began as peaceful demonstrations earlier in the week, but then things got out of hand, the spokeswoman said.
The new law will put more people in their position -- marooned on an island with little choice of where to go next.
On Saturday, Australian authorities intercepted the first boat smuggling refugees since the law was passed. It was sailing near the Christmas Islands and was crammed full with 81 people, who will face that fate.
Starting immediately, all "boat people" will be taken to the sparsely populated jungle island of Manus, which is a part of Papua New Guinea.
Australian officials Sunday said 15 Vietnamese asylum seekers on Manus were returned home.
Middle of nowhere
Nauru Island, where the insurrection broke out, is the epitome of the middle of nowhere.
It is roughly 2,000 miles from Australia's shores, where Rudd said in no uncertain terms that "boat people" are no longer to tread.
There is not much room to roam on Nauru. It is just three miles across at its widest point.
And there are not many people to talk to. The nearly 600 "transferees," as they are called, make up 5% of the island's total population. And they speak various languages from Farsi to Pashtun.
More than 150 miles of open ocean separate them from their nearest neighbor, which is another tiny island.
Manus presents a similar situation.
People arriving there will have to wait for authorities to determine that they are true refugees, not just people seeking a better life in a richer country.
"If they're found to be genuine refugees, they will be resettled in Papua New Guinea," Rudd said.
Rudd described the country in optimistic terms as "an emerging economy with a strong future."
Those who settle there may find it to be more of a jungle island populated with mostly native peoples, as the CIA World Factbook says. Not much of a replacement for the immigration melting pot they had hoped for.
Australia is prepared for an unlimited influx of new asylum seekers to the neighboring country, with its cooperation.
"Our governments will expand existing facilities on Manus Island, as well as establishing further facilities in Papua New Guinea," Rudd said. "There is no cap on the number of people who can be transferred to Papua New Guinea."