Australian refugee camp protest over, but not tensions

2015-01-20 09:16

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - A protest involving hundreds of asylum seekers at an Australian immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea, some of whom had sewn their lips shut in protest, has ended without serious violence, authorities in both countries said on Tuesday.

Australia uses offshore detention centres in Papua New Guinea and the tiny South Pacific island nation of Nauru to process would-be refugees trying to reach the country, often in unsafe boats after paying people-smugglers in Indonesia.

The detention centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea was the scene of riots in February 2014, in which one asylum seeker was killed and more than 70 injured after residents overran the camp, attacking detainees.

The protests began last week after the refugees were told they would be moved into new accommodation, which they feared would make them more vulnerable to attack by Papua New Guineans opposed to their presence, and had escalated in recent days.

Peaceful end to the protests

Journalists are barred from visiting Manus Island, so information about the protests cannot be verified independently.

A spokesperson for Papua New Guinea's chief migration officer, Mataio Rabura, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that a peaceful end to the protests had been negotiated.

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton seemed to contradict that statement after footage smuggled out of the camp and seen by Reuters appeared to show riot police forcing their way into the compound.

The footage shows shield-wielding police forcing their way into a compound that had been barricaded by detainees during the protest, followed by banging sounds and shouting from inside.

"There was a degree of force, if you like, that was used, and I think that's appropriate, but there wasn't, it didn't escalate to a point where police had to present themselves and be in conflict with the people that are in the centre," Dutton told Sky News.

Controversial deal

A group of 58 refugees have been placed in a nearby prison as punishment for their involvement in the protests, according to the Refugee Action Coalition, while others are being held in isolation in the camp's medical facilities.

Under Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's tough line on people smuggling, none of the thousands of asylum seekers will ever be eligible for resettlement in Australia, even if they are found to be genuine refugees.

Several detainees reportedly swallowed razor blades or detergent as acts of self-harm, citing the despair of endless detention as a major factor in the protest.

"Every day ... they're telling us something like 'tomorrow, we are going to release some people tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, the day after now,' - it's almost two years and nothing happened," a detainee calling himself Dave told the ABC on Monday.

Earlier Dutton, who did not respond to requests for comment, said protesters could be resettled in Cambodia under a controversial deal signed last year, but under no circumstances in Australia.

Read more on:    papua new guinea  |  australia  |  refugees

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.