A notice posted inside the Manus Island detention centre overnight has told refugees detained there for the last four years that they can elect to transfer to the Australian Government’s other offshore processing facility on Nauru.
The move comes exactly three weeks before the slated closure of the Manus RPC, which was declared unlawful by PNG’s highest court in April last year, and follows two recent deaths and a spate of violent attacks against refugees held on the island.
Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian journalist held on Manus by the Australian Government for the last four years, said:
“People are really frustrated and disappointed by this news. After four years of pain the Australian Government should transfer us to a safe place, not to another hell.”
“We deserve to start a new life in a safe place, not to be transferred from one place of torture to another,” said Mr Boochani.
Imran Mohammad, a stateless Rohingyan refugee who was just 19 when he was detained on Manus Island, said:
“Moving refugees from one hell to another is not a solution. We are in pain and beg the Australian Government to allow us to live our lives in safety immediately.”
Human Rights Law Centre Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, who has travelled to Manus three times, said:
“The government is bulldozing the Manus detention centre but it knows that the men trapped inside have nowhere safe to go.”
“After four years of fear, violence, suffering and death, these men deserve safety. Shunting them from one island prison to another doesn’t cut it,” said Mr Webb.
“People have suffered on both islands. People have been violently attacked on both islands. People have died on both islands. It’s not good enough to just transfer the cruelty and suffering – our government needs to end it.”
Mr Webb called on the Australian Government to immediately bring people being warehoused on Manus and Nauru to safety in Australia.
“If Malcolm Turnbull honestly believes that people will eventually go to the US – fine. But in the meantime he should bring them here to safety in Australia,” said Mr Webb.
“If Malcolm Turnbull leaves people in danger any longer, then further misery, suffering and death is absolutely inevitable.”
For interviews or further information please call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519