18 February 2014
On Sunday, protests erupted at the immigration detention centre on Manus Island after asylum seekers were told their chances of resettlement outside Papua New Guinea were low, or non-existent. Last night, PNG police and locals engaged in violence against the asylum seekers, including the use of sticks, machetes and at least one gun, following the evacuation of G4S guards from the centre. Reports are now emerging that, as it currently stands, 77 asylum seekers on Manus Island have been treated for injuries, with one person reported dead, and another shot in the buttocks.
The ongoing abuse of asylum seekers within the centre, and the terrible conditions they face, is no secret, despite governmental attempts at suppressing the release of information. This happens under the guise of national security framed within the militarised language of ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, together with G4S – the private company running the Manus Island detention centre – have deliberately withheld information about the seriousness of the current situation and downplayed the real dangers to peoples’ lives.
The Minister cannot pass responsibility for the death of the asylum seeker onto the PNG government. He should resign. A government minister responsible for a non-military or policing portfolio cannot have lethal weapons used against those under his watch. This killing represents a serious threat to the rights of refugees and to democratic accountability.
The AJDS unequivocally condemns the violence being perpetrated against these asylum seekers. We stand in solidarity with those being detained on Manus Island, and support their resistance to mandatory detention, which we deplore and call for the immediate end of. We call for the Australian Government, the PNG Government, and G4S to take immediate steps to remove asylum seekers from Manus Island, and close the detention centre.