Violent attacks on refugees on Manus Island are further evidence that Australia’s offshore detention centres must close and the innocent people held there for the last three years must be brought to Australia.
Daniel Webb, the Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, saw first-hand the confronting reality of the situation facing the men detained on Manus. Mr Webb, on island with a photographer from GetUp!, witnessed the aftermath of an attack on two refugees by a group of seven locals, armed with an iron bar.
“I went to Manus to investigate conditions on the ground and to hear stories of the men we’ve warehoused there for the last three years. I’d spent two full days hearing story after story about violence and attacks against refugees, both inside the detention centre and out, but there was still something really shocking about witnessing it first-hand,” Mr Webb said.
“The attack happened at 5pm in broad daylight. I saw two men walking towards the police station followed by a large crowd. They were clearly in a bad way and looked shocked and afraid. One man had had a deep gash on the back of his head and blood dripping from his arms. He collapsed inside the police station – it was a really frightening situation,” Mr Webb said.
“Someone tried to perform CPR before the man was loaded, unconscious, into the back of a police wagon and driven to hospital,” said Mr Webb.
Mr Webb said it was clear that the Australian government could not continue to warehouse the men on Manus.
“These men are in our care and they are not safe. The Australian government can’t keep sticking its head in the sand and pretending otherwise. The only viable and humane way forward is to bring them here,” said Mr Webb.
“These guys have been on Manus for 3 years. They have seen their friend, Reza Barati, beaten to death in front of them. One refugee has been shot. Another has had his throat slashed. They’ve been bashed by guards. They’ve been attacked by locals. They are genuinely fearful.”
“After three years, more men our government has sent to Manus have died than been successfully resettled. Enough is enough. We must bring them here.”
Images are available here. Please credit to Matthew Abbott for GetUp!.
For all media queries, please contact:
Daniel Webb, Director of Legal Advocacy: 0437 278 961
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications: 0419 100 519