The Tragedy on Manus


One person has been killed and dozens have been injured at the Manus detention centre, one of the detention centres operated by the Australian government to detain people seeking asylum.

The Australian run detention centre on Manus Island has exploded into a tragedy. Since last week, when the first reports of new protests by the people detained there leaked out into the mainstream media, one person has died, scores have been injured, and at least one person is in a critical condition.

The detention centre is a place of massive despair for the people detained there.

Since mid-2013 the Australian government has been practising not only mandatory detention but also mandatory exclusion of those people who travel to Australia by boat to seek asylum. Asylum seekers are held on Christmas Island and then imprisoned on Manus and Nauru and excluded from ever settling in Australia. Both Manus and Nauru are places of despair.

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has made a token gesture of sympathy to the murdered person's family, but continues to blame the people detained there for their own misfortune, and says protest will not change Australia's immigration policy.

Asylum seekers on Manus have managed to get a message out, a message was recorded on an answer machine at the Australian Asylum Resource Centre:

Recording 1 – Received at approximately 11pm on 17.02.14

Message from Manus Island 1

They report about an incident that happened in Manus Island and it started before 5 days from now when the people started to protest peacefully. Just call for freedom and justice but this let the Immigration officers to come and hold meetings with the transferees on 5th February. In this meeting the clients or transferees asked many questions but Immigration officers did not answer and they said we will be answering questions after maybe 2 weeks or 1 week. Then it came that Immigration, today they came with the management staff and military…[inaudible]. They said you will not be settled in Australia but in PNG and you stay here for long time and you don’t have any hope even if you are genuine refugees. This let people made another peaceful protest and finally some of PNG G4S staff decided to beat the transferees or asylum seekers and then some of us run away from the compound, just escape and secure their lives when they couldn’t secure their lives inside. And that was why the people run away from the compound but they didn’t run away from the compound to go to anywhere or to run away but they couldn’t secure their lives inside the compound so they tried to secure their lives outside the camp. That let other locals, some local people, to attack and assault the transferees, maybe approx. 50 people were injured. Other Australian as well [inaudible]. Including this number, 2 were seriously injured. So this is the incident that happened and even it is happening that local people attacked us while we were inside the compound. Too strong, you know, too strong and you did whatever it takes to beat us, so this the report we wish you can take with any media and we need your response to cover it.
Recording 2 – Received at approximately 11.30pm on 17.02.14

Message from Manus Island 2

Sir, really I do not know what to say, in this situation we…[inaudible]…in Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, what happened is, you remember that after just 80 minutes I sent you an incident that happened last night. So this is the next time that G5S staff [inaudible] and the same time the PNG guys they attacked us before they switched off the electricity and then they attacked us with stones and with [inaudible at 6.39]…they are armed and are maybe like 200 or above. They broke down everything and they injured many, many of the transferees in this compound and I think at the same time maybe the other compounds they did to them. So we were locked in the rooms, still now we are in the rooms, I am talking to you now from the internet room and the telephone room. We locked the doors inside, you cannot open to anyone and they are still killing. I do not know until now if they killed many of us or they injured one of us. But it [inaudible]…everyone is bleeding.
So this is the report about this incident and this is human suffering, not something easy. If you are the office for asylum seekers, we hope for you to do soon as possible to inform or contact with any media, anyone who can help us. We are not here by our choice. Australia government put us here by force and today this is happening. Who is responsible for our lives? We are dying here, maybe if we stay like this we are not even fighting them. We are just running away and trying to hide ourselves in the room. But they are following us every place and beating us, anyone they hate. I wish when this message reaches you, and you listen to it, you do something humanitarian. This is not a simple issue, it is urgent and maybe by tomorrow when you open your office, maybe there will be many people dead, maybe there will be many people seriously injured and I don’t know, maybe this will be listed in the next day. So please prepare to report about this incident. It is not just an incident, it is a disaster. So please help us, stop our suffering, contact with anyone who have humanitarian…to do something to stop this. I am sure that the powerful government, the UNHCR and Amnesty International, even the Australian government, they can do something to stop this. We will were beaten by the G4S security guards in the compound and they have been as well arresting, and for the last five or six months we have been here they are using it to arrest  anyone they see for false accusations and we were all, all the time patient and we didn’t do any problems, the last time we were doing a peaceful protest, they started…we act dutifully [inaudible at 9.34]…so please this is not a simple report this is a disaster [inaudible]. Please we are human beings, we are not animals. We are put in a cage and we are forgotten. I wish that when you receive this message there will be something to be done, something. Thank you.

The mandatory and indefinite detention of asylum seekers by the Australian government must end. To seek asylum is not a crime.

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