'This is like a war': Refugees shot at on Manus as cruel policy provokes new violence

A photo showing shots fired at Fox Compound
April 14, 2017

Refugees and asylum seekers in Manus Island detention centre were attacked on April 14, including being fired at with live ammunition. People inside have described it as being "like a war".

Papua New Guinea (PNG) locals began attacking the centre on the evening of April 14. Police may be involved as well as the PNG Navy.

Pictures obtained by activists show bullet holes in Fox Compound, where refugees were taking refuge.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian journalist and asylum seeker jailed in Manus, tweeted: “Navy have shot more than 100 times, some of them have broken into rooms. The situation on #Manus is critical”

Another detainee in Manus said: "We were not safe in our home country and we are not safe in detention centre too. Is there any safe place for us in this world...??"

In a video posted on Twitter, a man in Manus says: “The local guys attacked the camp and they just used the guns, they just shoot the gun. I don’t know what to do…”

.@abcnews PNG Police and Navy have opened fire on #refugees in #manus camp @TurnbullMalcolm @PeterDutton_MP #bringthemhere #deathcamp pic.twitter.com/FhBnm4gHlL

— Annie Lou (@oxy_sox) April 14, 2017

In the clip, a gunshot is heard that rattles his building. He appears to duck, before looking up and saying, “they just shoot” before the video cuts out.

Reports differ on how the conflict began. Behrouz said on Facebook: “This evening some of the refugees and local people fought each other near the soccer ground.”

The Sydney Morning Herald says some people are reporting the conflict was started by drunken guards.

Australian Border Force officials and detention centre staff were seen fleeing to a nearby boat – leaving the refugees in the detention centre unprotected and in fear for their lives.

At the time of writing, no casualties have been reported and the gunfire is believed to have stopped.

Behrouz said on Facebook at 9pm: “In the past hour no shots fired.”

This is not the first time Manus Island detention centre has been attacked by PNG locals. In February 2014, PNG locals and detention centre guards attacked refugees, resulting in Reza Berati’s murder. Berati was beaten, kicked while he was on the ground and had his head bashed in with a large rock. There have been numerous incidents of people been assaulted by PNG locals.

Ultimately, such violence is the deliberate and intended result of Australia's illegal and cruel policy of offshore detention. The blood spilled in the Manus Island detention centres is on the hands of the Australian government.