19 Jan 2015

Leaders isolated after Manus protests

7:14 am on 19 January 2015

Asylum seekers are continuing protests at Manus Island detention centre where security staff have reportedly rounded up ring leaders and put them in a high-security isolation unit.

Refugee advocates say Transfield riot officers raided a compound early on Sunday seizing leaders of the protest in which hundreds of men on hunger or water strike at the Australian-run asylum-seeker processing centre in Papua New Guinea.

A spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition says the riot squad also attempted to force water down the throat of two unconscious asylum seekers in the compound.

"They also threatened that a special forces unit will come from Port Moresby 'to deal with you' unless the hunger strike was ended by this morning," he said.

Asylum seekers in Manus Island centre protesting  against resettlement plans

Asylum seekers in Manus Island centre protesting against resettlement plans Photo: Supplied by Refugee Action Coalition

The Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss could not confirm those reports on Sunday but said new Immigration Minister Peter Dutton would be seeking to do that.

He said the government wanted to ensure that people in those centres were appropriately cared for.

But he reiterated that people who arrived by boat without a visa would not be resettled in Australia.

The asylum seekers are demanding the department of immigration halt a scheduled January 22 transfer of 50 male detainees to temporary, insecure housing in Lorengau, the Manus capital.

Mr Rintoul said taking leaders hostage or sending in the riot squad would not stop the 700 hunger strikers.