This morning PNG armed forces have again stormed the Manus Island regional processing centre. Reports say they are beating the men and forcing them to leave. This follows yesterday’s actions where approximately 50 of the 400 men were forced to move to accommodation that two days earlier the UN had found was unsafe and unready.
Amy Frew, lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said “These men are scared, they are exhausted and they are despairing. After four and half years of limbo and uncertainty they still have nowhere safe to go. This morning’s actions show that whatever they do, wherever they go, their safety cannot be guaranteed until they are evacuated from Papua New Guinea.”
On Good Friday this year drunk soldiers from the PNG Defence Forces went on a rampage, tried to crash a vehicle through the detention centre fences and fired over 100 shots, including from an M-16 Assault Rifle, at the refugees detained inside. These attacks followed the murder of Reza Berati by contractors in February 2014.
“PNG military personnel have attacked these men once before. They are terrified that while they remain in the centre they will be attacked again, and they are terrified if they leave they will be attacked by locals who are angry that after 4 and a half years the refugees are still on their island,” said Ms Frew.
Over the last 4 years men, who have left the centre on day release have been targeted, beaten and robbed by members of the local population. Reports by Human Rights Watch show that these attacks have intensified in the last few months.
The UNHCR is maintaining a presence of the ground in Manus Island and reported two days ago that the new detention centre is not ready and unsafe, citing community tensions and a blockade which threatens the safety of the men at the new sites which are unsecured.
“We’ve seen report after report on the emerging disaster on Manus Island, but still Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton sit in Canberra with their heads in the sand. These lives are in their hands, and these are the lives they can save,” said Ms Frew.
“Enough is enough. This is a humanitarian crisis of Malcolm Turnbull’s own making. He can’t close his eyes to this disaster any longer. These men must immediately be evacuated to safety in Australia,” said Ms Frew.
For interviews or further information please call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519