Continuing attacks against refugees on Manus Island show the Australian government must #BringThemHere

Continuing violent attacks against refugees on Manus Island are further evidence that Australia’s offshore detention centres must close and that the innocent people held there for the last three years must be brought to safety in Australia.

Once again this weekend a man sent to Manus by the Australian government has been violently attacked (photos - warning graphic). The man, Masoud Ali Shiekhi, was set upon by a group of locals with rocks in an unprovoked attack as he walked a friend to the bus stop near the transit centre at East Lorengau on Saturday. He suffered head injuries in the incident.

Daniel Webb, the Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, recently returned from Manus Island where he met Masoud - who used to work for the United Nations in Yemen before being forced to flee - and saw first-hand the confronting reality facing him and the other men left languishing on the island by the Australian government.

“Masoud really tried. He volunteered with a local organisation supporting people with disabilities. He studied the local language. He tried to make local friends. Despite three years of fear, violence and limbo he stayed incredibly strong and did everything he could to make the best of a truly horrible situation. But even for Masoud, Manus has proven to be a harmful and dangerous dead end,” said Mr Webb.

Mr Webb went to Manus recently to investigate conditions on the ground and to hear stories of the men the Australian government has warehoused there for the last three years. Mr Webb spent two full days hearing story after story about violence and attacks against refugees, both inside the detention centre and out.

“When I was on Manus I also saw the aftermath of a similar attack in which two refugees – Afghan Hazaras who had fled the Taliban – were attacked by a group of seven locals. They were beaten with an iron bar, robbed and insulted. One of them collapsed and was taken to hospital unconscious.”

Mr Webb continued, “The refugees who saw these events unfold were afraid and really worried for their seriously injured friends. But they weren't surprised. Sadly, they'd seen it all before.”

“Our government can't leave these men on a dangerous road to nowhere any longer. These are innocent people in our care and they are not safe. The only viable and humane way forward is for the government to bring them here and allow them to start rebuilding their lives in safety,” said Mr Webb.

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