Today’s report from Human Rights Watch lays bare the fear, cruelty and danger the refugees and people seeking asylum face on Manus Island.
Human Rights Watch visited Manus in September and spoke to dozens of men about their fears, including those who have been “stabbed, beaten, and robbed” when they’ve left the guarded centre. Some men were too scared to leave the centre to meet with the HRW team. The Australian Government intends to push a further 600 men towards this danger when the guarded centre is closed in six days.
Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, who has been to Manus three times to speak with the men there, said:
"Today Human Rights Watch calls Manus a dangerous failure. Last week the UN called it a humanitarian disaster. These men have had four years of their lives ripped away from them. They’ve been beaten. They’ve been shot. And they’ve suffered the sheer torment of not knowing if or when their ordeal would ever end.
"After four years of fear, violence and suffering, these men deserve a future. But instead our Government is trying to bludgeon them into returning to persecution or moving from one dead end camp to another. It’s the height of cruelty," said Mr Webb.
A notice posted inside the Manus Island detention centre last week warned refugees that from the 31 October 2017, all food, water and electricity will be disconnected, protective fences will be removed and the facility will be handed over to the PNG Defence Forces.
On Good Friday this year, drunk soldiers from the PNG Defence Forces attacked the centre, ramming the centre fence with a vehicle to try to gain entry and firing over 100 shots, including from an M-16 Assault Rifle, into the centre where hundreds of refugees feared for their lives.
"It beggars belief. PNG military personnel have attacked these men before. Now our Government is tearing down the fences and putting them in charge. Peter Dutton and Malcolm Turnbull can't just sit back and wait for further bloodshed. Every single man on Manus must be immediately evacuated to safety in Australia," said Mr Webb.
For interviews or further information please call:
Tom Clarke, Director of Campaigns, Human Rights Law Centre, 0422 545 763
Photo credit: Matthew Abbott