Manus Island: PNG police move into detention centre and tell refugees to leave | Australia news

Published on November 23, 2017

A police operation is under way on Manus Island, with Papua New Guinean police and immigration officers entering the former detention centre in an effort to move detainees out, more than three weeks into a deteriorating humanitarian crisis.

Refugees inside the centre have reported large numbers of officers, including the paramilitary police mobile squad, have entered and given them an hour to leave. The officers shouted at detainees and demanded they hand over their phones.

Manus Island reopened

Julia Gillard’s Labor government reopens detention centre – not used since 2004 – and the first 19 asylum seekers arrive from Christmas island.

‘No chance of being settled in Australia’

New Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd announces people who seek asylum by boat will never be settled in Australia, with all sent to Manus or Nauru.

Reza Barati dies

Three days of violence leaves 70 detainees seriously injured, with some shot by police, stabbed and with their throats slit. Iranian detainee Reza Barati is murdered after security guards inflict fatal head injuries during the riot.

Mass hunger strike

More than 500 men begin a two-week hunger strike in protest against conditions on the island. Two stitch their lips together, three swallow razor blades and collapsing strikers have to be forcibly removed by security.

Healthcare failings revealed

A Guardian investigation reveals widespread failings in the healthcare services provided by IHMS in detention centres, including Manus Island.

Rape allegation

A PNG woman employed by Transfield alleges she was raped by Australian colleagues inside the centre. The alleged perpetrators are flown out of the country.

Supreme court rules Manus illegal

Papua New Guinea supreme court rules the detention centre is illegal and unconstitutional and must be closed.

Faysal Ishak Ahmed dies

Sudanese refugee Faysal Ishak Ahmed dies after six months of suffering numerous blackouts, falls and seizures inside the detention centre.

Services shut down

PNG immigration officials confirm the centre will close on 31 October, and tell detainees to ‘consider their options’. Over the following months basic services are shut down around detainees, to encourage them to leave

$70m compensation

The Australian government settles a class action, paying $70m compensation to more than 2,000 detainees for illegal detention and mistreatment, but denies any liability.

Hamed Shamshiripour dies

Iranian asylum seeker Hamed Shamshiripour is found dead, having taken his own life. His friends say they pleaded with the Australian government to provide treatment for his mental health problems.

First detainees flown to US

Twenty-five men leave Papua New Guinea for the US under a resettlement deal between Australia and the US. The total number to be transferred is still uncertain, with the US under no obligation to take a set amount.

Refugees described police as intimidating and aggressive as they dismantled structures and threw away refugees’ belongings. One officer was seen carrying a large bush knife, which are common on Manus.

A video livestreamed from inside the facility showed men chanting “human rights help us, they want to kill us”, and two men apparently unconscious. Walid Zazai, filming the scene, said it was a medical emergency but they had no assistance. “We don’t know if he had a heart attack because he had previously problems,” Zazai said of one.

The second unconscious man had epilepsy, he said.

Walid Zazai
(@ZazaiWalid)

https://t.co/BEa5yhYZXV


November 22, 2017

Abdul Aziz Adam
(@Aziz58825713)

We need urgent help any Dr of nurses we have one refugee in very bad conditions pic.twitter.com/voXXtSQUYI


November 22, 2017

On Thursday morning Australia’s immigration minister, Peter Dutton, confirmed a “police operation” and accused the detainees of trashing it.

“I think it’s outrageous that people are still there,” he told 2GB radio. “They’ve trashed the facility, they’re living in squalor.”

“The Australian taxpayers have paid about $10m for a new facility and we want people to move.”

He likened the situation to building a new house for tenants who refuse to move in.

Dutton’s repeated claims that the alternative accommodation units are ready and suitable for detainees have been consistently debunked by observers and published videos and photos of blocked toilets, bathrooms without water, and buildings still under construction. Detainees have repeatedly claimed they are not safe in the new housing in Lorengau, citing frequent violent attacks and a lack of security.

Some refugees have taken shelter on roofs inside the decommissioned detention centre. Some had been sleeping on top of shipping containers, in expectation the police would move in.

Walid Zazai
(@ZazaiWalid)

They destroying all our property.
They are so angry, and telling us leave our land
First they said move to town,now more angry and telling us leave our land otherwise we will kill u.
Police commissioner Yapu said: It’s an Order from Australian and PNG governments to move u out pic.twitter.com/uyA7p4wcsI


November 22, 2017

Abdul Aziz Adam
(@Aziz58825713)

The police and immigrations are destroying Australian property pic.twitter.com/QZVuccYjRw


November 23, 2017

Abdul Aziz Adam
(@Aziz58825713)

This photo will show how peaceful we are and how we respond to the immigration and police to the violence and aggressive behavior pic.twitter.com/9lnUQ3yXyO


November 22, 2017

Behrouz Boochani, a journalist and refugee inside the centre, said immigration and police had started searching rooms and telling people: “Move, move,” and, “You only have an hour to move.”

Boochani said some refugees were building barriers to halt police progress, others were hiding.

Behrouz Boochani
(@BehrouzBoochani)

They are taking the phones and are very aggresive and are taking out some refugees who still remain in the rooms. Something terrible is happening right now, they are taking the refugees out of the rooms.


November 22, 2017

He added: “They are destroying everything. Shelters, tanks, beds and all of our belongings. They are very aggressive and put our belongings in the rubbish bins. The refugees still are silent are watching them so scared.

“The refugees are sitting peacefully and immigration and police are asking them to leave the prison camp. The refugees are only listening and completely silent. They are talking on the microphone and shouting ‘move, move’.”

The belongings of the refugees and asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention centre are messed up by PNG police.



The belongings of the refugees and asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention centre are messed up by PNG police. Photograph: Anonymous

Video from the Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Adam showed immigration officials in yellow shirts surrounded by uniformed police. It showed one PNG police officer issuing instructions over a megaphone to the 380 men barricaded inside. “This place where you are living right now is no longer legal centre for the refugees and non-refugees reside,” the officer says. “This place will be handed back to the PNG defence force.

“It is their military base, and your staying here … would be seen as illegal and unlawful.

PNG police had originally planned to launch its “Operation Helpim Friends” on Wednesday, but it was cancelled pending a court appeal, now adjourned to 15 December. The police commissioner, Gari Baki, described the operation as “politely” asking the detainees to leave, and said no force would be used.

An Australian federal police spokesman denied earlier reports its officers were involved. He said their one liaison officer there was not linked to Thursday’s action.

Lynne Murphy
(@lynnemurphy1)

EMERGENCY #Manus #ManusSOS
Police navy immigration pushing us to move
‘They were so aggressive with us when they come pushing, running behind us they pushed me on the ground wanted my phone i get up and ran
@ManusAlert pic.twitter.com/95c6rVdiHt


November 22, 2017

Amnesty International said serious injuries were entirely foreseeable, and the PNG government was “knowingly placing the refugees at risk”. Amnesty’s Pacific researcher, Kate Schuetze said: “There is no justification for this action.

“International law and standards demand that refugees enjoy international protection. The country where they sought refuge – Australia – has violated their rights at every turn. PNG has aided and enabled Australia’s policy of cruelty and degradation of the refugees.”

The Australian director of Human Rights Watch, Elaine Pearson, said Australia’s reputation was on the line. “Australia is standing idly by as PNG security forces are trashing the compound, confiscating phones, and aggressively telling refugees and asylum seekers they must leave,” she said.

On Thursday morning a letter, signed by Australians of the Year between 1983 and 2015, pleaded with the Australian government to restore essential services and allow doctors inside the centre.

The situation was deteriorating, and the letter warned it was “inevitable” people would become sick and even die because of the lack of food and water, medical care and sanitation.

Last week members of the Australian Medical Association voted unanimously to call on the government to allow doctors access to the centre.

On Wednesday the UNHCR said the humanitarian crisis was human-made and entirely preventable. It was a “damning indictment of a policy meant to avoid Australia’s international obligations”, said Nai Jit Lam, the UNHCR’s deputy regional representative in Canberra.

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