23 Nov 2017

Beatings, arrests as police trash Manus centre in raid

7:49 pm on 23 November 2017

Kurdish journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani has been arrested during today's raid of the closed Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

He was targeted by police and is now being held in the East Lorengau Transit Centre for Refugees

Hopes of a reprieve for refugees occupying the detention centre were dashed after a team of soldiers, police and government officials moved in this morning to end the standoff.

Members of the PNG Navy arrives at the Manus compound.

Members of the PNG Navy arrives at the Manus compound. Photo: Supplied

Police Commissioner Gari Baki pledged force would not be used to relocate about 400 refugees protesting against their four year detention by Australia, but Mr Boochani was arrested and taken away from the centre about 12pm local time.

Before his arrest, Mr Boochani said the men were sitting peacefully but were not going to move.

Mr Boochani said hundreds of police, soldiers and officials were in and around the centre and had been destroying the refugees' belongings.

"They are threatening the refugees on a loud speaker and they are saying that 'you must move'. Also they destroyed everything in the prsion camp, all of our properties," he said.

"They are saying that 'you no have choice' ... and 'you must leave this prison camp'."

Mr Boochani said two men with long-standing medical conditions had collapsed during the raid and needed urgent treatment.

Mr Boochani said two men had been detained by police but were released.

He could not confirm that the two were beaten, but a picture taken by a refugee in the centre shows a man with wounds on his back.

So far about 40 people have been removed to facilities in Lorengau, but police remain at the detention centre and are terrorising the inmates.

Manus refugee hurt during police assault

Manus refugee hurt during police assault Photo: suppled

Yesterday, the PNG Supreme Court scheduled a December date to hear the refugees' appeal against the disconnection of services and food from the centre, giving their lawyer false hope that his clients would not be harassed before the verdict.

Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Adam said dozens of police had moved into Delta compound this morning.

"They started pushing people, swearing and beating. So far two refugees have been arrested, and one of them was beaten up in front of the other peoples," he said.

"They want to arrest too many people but the refugees are all together, they chained their hands together, they were sitting on the floor shouting that we are peaceful, we don't want your country, and we don't want to move, so please stop forcing us."

Immigration officials inside the Manus Island compound.

Immigration officials inside the Manus Island compound. Photo: Supplied

A Manus Island refugee injured during the raid, 23-11-17

A Manus Island refugee injured during the raid, 23-11-17 Photo: supplied

Mr Aziz said that the police actions at the centre were on a level of aggression that the refugees had not experienced since a deadly riot in the centre in early 2014.

"They are throwing stones, they are carrying batons, some of them are carrying sticks ... and steel. They are swearing and shouting. This is a really crazy moment that we are in right now."

Manus IslaManus Island detainees

Manus Island detainees Photo: Supplied

Numerous refugees said the Immigration Department has threatened them to not use phones. It's understood two men may have been arrested for trying to document this morning's police actions.

Pictures from the centre show refugees climbing a structure to escape the officials, and a group of angry refugees shouting defiantly.

A Manus Island refugee displays wounds allegedly inflicted by police, 23-11-17

A Manus Island refugee displays wounds allegedly inflicted by police, 23-11-17 Photo: supplied

Video received from the centre shows refugees clustered together and chanting for help from the United Nations.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs