Manus Island police use long metal poles to beat refugees and asylum seekers

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Manus Island police use long metal poles to beat refugees and asylum seekers” was written by Ben Doherty, for theguardian.com on Friday 24th November 2017 04.47 Asia/Kolkata

Papua New Guinean police have used batons to beat refugees and asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention centre, as they continue their operation to clear the decommissioned camp.

Video shot within the centre on Friday morning showed officers from PNG’s mobile squad threatening and hitting refugees with long metal poles as they dragged men out of the centre.

Other pictures showed immigration officials – in marked yellow T-shirts – physically moving refugees out of the centre.

The effort to physically clear the camp – codenamed Operation Helpim Friends – began on Thursday with about 50 refugees and asylum seekers taken from the detention centre to other accommodation on Manus Island – most of which is not yet fully built, without running water, electricity or security fences.

The detention centre, where most of the refugees and asylum seekers have been held for more than four years was officially closed on 31 October.

The men who remained there, living without running water, food, and electricity for three weeks, have resisted going to other accommodation because they do not feel safe in Lorengau, after a series of violent attacks against refugees in the township, and because of a lack of services, especially health services, in the new centre.

Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani, who was targeted and arrested by police on Thursday, and taken to Lorengau before being released without charge, continued to report from the island.

“This morning police attacked the prison camp and the refugees are saying that they beat them. The refugees are going to leave the prison camp. So many are in the buses and are on the way to the new camps.

“Immigration and police broke many phones of ppl (sic) trying to take photos. The refugees are gathering in Oscar compound, police and immigration are around them. Some officers destroying Delta compound. The ppl (sic) are waiting for buses to take them, four buses are full and on way to new camps.”

Walid Zazai, who remains in the camp, said refugees and asylum seekers were not resisting or using violence.

(November 21, 2012) 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.

(July 12, 2013) Damning UN report

A UNHCR report finds every asylum seeker on Manus displays signs of anxiety and depression.

(July 19, 2013) ‘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.

(February 17, 2014) 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.

(September 5, 2014) Hamid Kehazaei dies

Iranian Hamid Kehazaei dies after a delayed medical evacuation to Australia, as a treatable bacterial infection develops into septicaemia.

(December 13, 2015) 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.

(July 21, 2015) Healthcare failings revealed

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

(August 27, 2015) 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.

(April 26, 2016)  Supreme court rules Manus illegal

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

(August 17, 2016) Manus to close

Australia confirms Manus detention centre will close but says none of the 854 men still there will be resettled in Australia.

(December 24, 2016) Faysal Ishak Ahmed dies

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

(May 15, 2017) 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

(June 14, 2017) $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.

(August 7, 2017) 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.

(September 26, 2017) 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.

(October 2, 2017) Sri Lankan refugee dies

A formally recognised refugee dies in Lorengau hospital.

(October 23, 2017) Detainees refuse to leave

A week before it’s due to close, it’s revealed more than 600 detainees are refusing to leave the centre, citing fears for their safety in Lorengau.

 

 

In Canberra, Malcolm Turnbull said the decommissioned detention centre was being cleared.

“I am pleased to say in terms of Manus is that the reports we have is that busloads of people are leaving Manus and complying with the directions of the PNG authorities and moving to the alternative facilities available to them,” the prime minister said. “That’s as they should.”

The Australian government’s claims that alternative accommodation units are ready and suitable for habitation have been consistently refuted by independent observers. Videos and photos have been published of blocked toilets, bathrooms without water and buildings still under construction. Electricity was cut to one accommodation centre during a dispute with local landowners, and detainees have repeatedly claimed they are not safe in the new housing in Lorengau, citing frequent violent attacks and a lack of security.

The United Nations Refugee Agency said it was troubled by reports of force being used to remove refugees and asylum seekers from the former regional processing centre.

The UNHCR said it had been given assurances excessive force had not been and would not be used, but it could not independently confirm what was happening as staff had not been granted full access to the facility.

“UNHCR reminds Australia of its obligation to take full responsibility and provide effective protection, safety and lasting solutions for all refugees and asylum seekers in cooperation with the Papua New Guinean authorities,” the UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, Volker Türk, said.

“We urge both governments to engage in constructive dialogue, to de-escalate the tensions and work on urgent lasting solutions to their plight,” he said.

The four-year history of the camp has been marked by violence. In February 2014, during riots when police and other outsiders stormed the detention centre, more than 70 asylum seekers were seriously injured, including having their throats slits with knives, as well as being shot with police weapons. Reza Barati was murdered by contractors who beat him with a nail-spiked stick and dropped a rock on his head.

In 2015, a mass hunger-strike ended with mobile squad police raiding the centre.

On Good Friday this year, drunken soldiers tried to crash a vehicle through the detention centre fence, and fired over 100 shots, including from an M16 assault rifle, at refugees inside.

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Manus Island police use long metal poles to beat refugees and asylum seekers - NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).