Manus Island protests defy Australia

Protests have continued on Manus Island detention centre for more than 38 days.
Saturday, September 9, 2017

When Australia began forcibly moving people out of Manus Island detention centre to East Lorengau and Port Moresby in August, peaceful protests were launched in the detention centre.

When Australia cut off the power and water, people continued to defiantly protest.

When a detainee, Hamed, was found dead, his body beaten and hung from a tree near the East Lorengau transit centre, a vigil was held for him and the protests continued.

When Australia removed public phones from the centre, meaning many men could not contact their families, the protests continued. They were promised the phones would be returned, after construction was completed. But the phones have not been returned.

Many people in the centre do not have access to mobile phones or cannot afford the cost of international calls. One man held a placard at the protest: “Dutton show some humanity. My mother is very sick. Bring phones back.”

When PNG police were sent in to break up the protests, people defiantly remained, their arms crossed over their heads in protest.

When Australia built a new reinforced steel fence between the east and west sections of the centre to more easily control people, the protests continued.

Australia has moved more than 100 men to Port Moresby, supposedly for medical treatment. Some of the men have being waiting for more than three years for medical treatment, while others have no medical reasons to be moved.

Photos show men in handcuffs being taken to Port Moresby for medical reasons. Men in Port Moresby have begun daily protests outside the Australian Border Force office there. Their phone cards have been seized.

In a statement on September 5 they said: “First they cut off our phone cards and we stay out of touch with our love ones, second they will throw us in Port Moresby street homeless.”

Another man, with UN travel documents issued by PNG tried to travel on a domestic flight between Port Moresby to Manus Island, but was stopped by police and told he cannot travel with that document.

The vicious assaults of people who are living in East Lorengau continue.

The daily protests show no sign of ending as Australia continues to demolish the centre and tries to force people to move to East Lorengau or accept deportation.

Some of the placards read: “Australia is using PNG’s hand to kill us” and “Mr Dutton killing innocent people is not a victory”.

This month marks three years since Hamid Khazaei died from a small cut to his foot, after he was denied adequate medical attention until it was too late.

Hamed was the latest man to die. He was beaten up by local vigilantes in East Lorengau on numerous occasions before his body was found in suspicious circumstances, hanging from a tree.

Another placard states: “Aus. Gov. Enough using us 4 political purpose.” Another says: “Dealing with humans in a harsh way was never the solution and not something to be proud of.”

Immigration minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull constantly claim the detention system is a solution to stopping the boats. It has not stopped the boats, as shown by the government’s actions in turning boats back since 2013, which was proven earlier this year under freedom of information.

Other placards lay what is happening bare: “Australia started a new holocaust by taking asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island Hells” and “Some were killed by gas chambers, some are killed by detention. This is called holocaust. This is called offshore processing.”

The detention system is designed to destroy people. People have died from lack of medical attention, beatings from guards or been driven to suicide.

Now people are being put in a situation where they are at serious risk of being viciously beaten up without access to work or shelter.

The future of the men on Manus Island is uncertain, as it has been for the past four years. Australia says they must accept living in PNG or deportation. The PNG government says the Australian government cannot leave the men in PNG. The men in Manus Island continue to call on the Australian government to give them freedom and protection.

The protests show no signs of stopping in the face of immense pressure.

A final placard says: “Thank U-4 standing with us those in AUS & NZ we love u a lots we are all brothers in humanity. Wake up UN.”

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