31 Jul 2017

Attacks show Manus detainees not safe, say advocates

2:46 pm on 31 July 2017

Refugee advocates say three attacks in twelve hours on Manus Island detainees show the Papua New Guinea community is not a safe place for refugees to settle.

A Sudanese man and another from Iran were brutally attacked with machetes in two separate incidents over the weekend before an Afghan refugee was mugged on Sunday morning.

The Refugee Action Coalition said that at about 10pm on Saturday night, up to eight local men entered a house in Lorengau town and attacked the Sudanese refugee, slashing his leg with a bush knife.

An Indian asylum seeker inside N block at the Manus detention center.

An Indian asylum seeker inside N block at the Manus detention center. Photo: Refugee Action Coalition

The coaltion says in the second attack, about six hours later on Sunday morning, the same people responsible for the first assault, robbed an Iranian refugee before hacking his wrist open, cutting veins and tendons.

It said later that morning, while refugees were assisting the two men at Lorengau hospital, the Afghan refugee was robbed of his phone and belongings by another group of locals.

Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the frequency and severity of the attacks by Manusians were increasing.

"This highlights the danger that refugees do face in the community and we think its time the Australian government desisted from its efforts to force people out of the detention centre into the community," said Mr Rintoul.

The Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island is set to close by October 31, after the PNG supreme court ruled it was illegal last year.

Daniel Webb from the Human Rights Law Centre said it was "cruel, irresponsible and incredibly dangerous" for the Australian government to force innocent people into a place they know is unsafe.

The Kurdish journalist and detainee Behrouz Boochani said the attacks were the latest in a chain of incidents.

"The local police can't protect us," said Mr Boochani. "We are being forced to live in constant fear."

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