Manus Island riot sparked by resettlement news
ASYLUM-seekers (mostly Iranians and Iraqi men of military age)Â Â broke out of the Manus Island detention centre after being told they would be settled in Papua New Guinea and would receive no help to go to another country.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said 35 asylum-seekers broke out of the facility last night, after breaking down a fence, but were quickly returned to the centre.
Broken bunk beds were used as weapons, forcing security guards to don protective gear during the hour-long standoff.
Nineteen asylum-seekers were injured in the incident and eight were arrested.
Mr Morrison said the disturbance arose after a meeting between immigration authorities and asylum-seekers.
He said suggestions that asylum-seekers rioted after hearing they would not be settled in PNG were false.
They were in fact told that they would be offered settlement in PNG, he said.
They were also told “a third country option will not be offered, and that neither the PNG nor the Australian governments will be acting on behalf of the transferees in seeking alternative settlement countries to PNG’’, Mr Morrison said.
He said resettlement accommodation being constructed on Manus Island was “not restricted to being temporary accommodation’’.
About 1300 asylum-seekers are housed on Manus Island in a detention centre first set up by the
Howard government in 2001, closed by Labor in 2008 but reopened in November 2012.
The PNG government has set up an eminent persons group to determine whether asylum-seekers will be settled in PNG or in a third country.
But Tony Abbott said he had been assured by PNG counterpart Peter O’Neill his country was prepared to resettle refugees.
“That is still very much available. And Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has reassured me repeatedly that the same deal that was on offer to the former government remains on offer,’ Mr Abbott told ABC radio.
“And my understanding is that there has been no such information given to people – that they’ll never be resettled in PNG.’’
Mr Morrison said 19 asylum-seekers required medical attention after being injured in the disturbance.
None sustained life-threatening injuries and only five remained at the island’s clinic this morning.
A number of G4S staff sustained minor injuries, he said.
He said there was minor damage to the centre including several light poles being knocked down, internal and external fences knocked over, and several glass panels smashed.
Earlier, local MP Ron Knight dismissed reports of a breakout at the centre, saying PNG immigration told him this was false.
“That’s BS,’’ he told AAP.
“There was a fight late yesterday afternoon amongst themselves.
“They have been arrested and will face court this week.’’
Tensions at the centre had been simmering after three asylum seekers were arrested last week following a fight with a guard.
Al Jizz Report:
An asylum seeker was killed and scores were injured when a violent protest ended with a breakout from an immigration detention camp run by Australia on the South Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea, an official said.
The asylum seeker died from head injuries as he was taken by ambulance to the hospital, Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday. It was not clear what his nationality was, or how he had sustained the injuries, AP news agency reported.
Two other seriously injured asylum seekers, one with a gunshot wound and the other with a fractured skull, would be flown to Australia for medical treatment, Morrison added. It was the second bout of unrest at the facility. On Sunday, a number of asylum seekers were injured and some were arrested following an escape attempt by 35 people.
Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Sydney, said the Australian government would continue its policy of sending asylum seekers to the detention camp in Papua New Guinea.Â “Their tough policy continues despite this riot,” our correspondent said.
In recent years, thousands of people seeking asylum in Australia have attempted to reach the country by boat, mostly from Indonesia.Â The government has intercepted them at sea and sent them to detention camps at Manus Island, part of Papua New Guinea, or the tiny Pacific atoll nation of Nauru.
The number of security guards had been increased last week, which Morrison said had prevented the camp from being destroyed.
“This is a tragedy, but this was a very dangerous situation where people decided to protest in a very violent way and to take themselves outside the centre and place themselves at great risk,” Morrison told reporters.