Disturbance at the Manus Island detention confirmed
Riot squad called after protests escalate at Manus Island detention centre.
The Australian government has confirmed there has been, what it calls, a disturbance at the Manus Island detention centre last night.
The Refugee Action Coalition said this morning that reports coming from the centre were that fences were knocked down, and a riot squad called after protests escalated.
It says the protest action from the asylum seekers, who have been held for months without any refugee assessment, began on January the 25th, with them calling on the Australian government to end their indefinite detention.
The chief executive officer for Lorengau Hospital on Manus Island, Dr Otto Numan, says late yesterday evening, he received a call from medical services at the detention centre.
OTTO NUMAN: There was mass outbreak and there may be some casualties so we should be on the alert incase our services was required. But since then, from then until this morning we have not had anything from them.
The Australian Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, has since released a statement saying it's reported Papua New Guinea police have arrested a number of asylum seekers in relation to the disturbance. He says some asylum seekers have received medical attention and there has been some minor property damage to the centre. Mr Morrison also says reports that asylum seekers had been informed they would not be settled in Papua New Guinea are false. However, Ian Rintoul, with Refugee Action Coalition, told Leilani Momoisea that information should be taken with a grain of salt.
Ian Rintoul : Scott Morrison has got the statement that was read out, I think he should release that, so we can all see what was read out to the people at 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon. It's very clear from the Papua New Guinea official statements that PNG has got no formal commitment to resettle people. The foreign minister addressed parliament last week and said that there is no visa category for refugees on Papua New Guinea. The statements from Scott Morrison I think are quite deliberately misleading, but he has the statement, I've already publicly called for him to release that statement so we can all see what was said. Because I think it is in the public interest for everyone to know what conditions the immigration department has inflicted on people who are being sent to Manus island. The minister needs to come clean on whether there is a resettlement arrangement.
Leilani Momoisea : Any information coming out about where to from here for the people in the detention centre, do they still plan to protest after this? Do you feel like it's just inevitably going to be more disturbances, more riots?
IR: More disturbances will be inevitable. There's still no arrangement even to make refugee determinations on Manus Island. The Papua New Guinea government is not committed to those refugee assessments being made. I think it's quite clear that the next step should be the closure of Manus island. I'm hoping the PNG government will recognise the invidious position that the Australian government has put them in and the consequences for the 1300 people and more as the governments view is to send more people, and I'm hoping the PNG government will tear up the agreement and recognise that the Australian government is asking the PNG government to warehouse innocent people indefinitely.
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