Manus Island detainees plead for PNG exit

5:08 pm on 13 October 2017

Manus Island detainees have written to Papua New Guinea authorities pleading not to be forcibly resettled in PNG.

With Australia closing its immigration detention centre at the end of the month, about 800 men will seemingly become the responsibility of the PNG government.

Three buildings have been earmarked to receive about 600 men in Manus Island's Lorengau town, where detainees have suffered dozens of violent robberies.

Only 54 detainees have so far been resettled in the United States, who has agreed to take up to 1200 refugees out of about 2000 held on Manus and Nauru.

The letter to PNG authorities from Manus Island detainees.

The letter to PNG authorities from Manus Island detainees. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

But after four years on a remote, jungle covered island, Manus detainees are calling for other destinations to be found.

"Please do not go along with this mistreatment of humans. We do not want to move into Manus. We do not feel safe. We cannot work or provide for our families, we cannot be respected by people in society here. We don't want to resettle in PNG.

"We came to Australia - Australia should offer us asylum, or give us to a safe country like New Zealand (which) has already offered to take us. We will happily start our new life there."

The detention centre at Lombrum is being closed in accordance with a ruling of the PNG Supreme Court that the men's incarceration is unconstitutional.

The detainees argue that being housed in Lorengau is a continuation of this illegal imprisonment.

"The Australian government said we are closing it. But they have built another three centres in town. Where they will dump us in there for years. How is this not illegal also?

"What words and phrases have been changed to make it not illegal? The constitution says that detaining of innocent people in PNG is illegal. It doesn't say that detaining of innocent people in Lombrum is illegal and legal in other parts of PNG. Yet the situation remains the same. The semantics may have changed, yet the conditions have not.

"This is not right. For how long will you keep us on this island against our will? We are refugees and that means going home to our homeland is not an option we can take. Yet staying in PNG is not giving us our liberty back either."

The letter notes the death of six Manus detainees and how the United Nations and "many other organisations have rebuked Australia's treatment" of the men.

"PNG please show some compassion and humanity. You claim to be a Christian Country. Yet the way you are treating vulnerable people is against how the bible says to treat people.

"Instead you are helping Australia harm and torture innocent people and put them in detention for years. You are helping those who are torturing us and want to kill us.

"Please consider our plea."

An image from the 73rd day of protest at the Manus detention centre.

An image from the 73rd day of protest at the Manus detention centre. Photo: supplied

Meanwhile, Manusian local Ben Wamoi has written an open letter of his own condemning the governments of PNG and Australia "for detaining a group of human beings in prison like concentration camps."

"We the genuine citizens of Manus and PNG will voice our concerns over mistreatments of these asylum seekers on our soil.

"Evil has its own agenda. It will use leaders of morally corrupt nations to impose evil on lives of innocent people. Please accept our remorse for what you have gone through and (are) going through whilst here in Manus."