PNG govt denies Manus refugees were assaulted in move

6:06 pm on 27 November 2017

Papua New Guinea's government denies reports of excessive force being used to move refugees on Manus Island.

The 111th daily protest at the detention centre, 19-11-17.

The refugees protesting during their detention Photo: supplied

Around 400 men who had been holed up at Australia's former Manus processing centre since its closure three weeks earlier were finally forced out last week.

All of the men who had maintained a protest at the former centre since its closure over three weeks earlier were forced by police and Immigration officials to move to new facilities on the island.

Refugees claim they were beaten and assaulted in the process.

But PNG's Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas said these claims were false and propagated by individuals trying to seek attention.

He said the refugees had to be moved out from their illegal occupation for their own good to avoid a health disaster.

Some of the refugees say they were injured during the forced removal.

Some of the refugees say they were injured during the forced removal. Photo: Mehdi Maleknia and Mohammad Farahmand

However international outrage is growing over the treatment of the refugees, amid reports there's not enough space in the new facilities for them.

But Mr Thomas expressed gratitude to local agencies who assisted ending the standoff, explaining that PNG Immigration no longer had authority to keep the men in the former centre at Lombrum.

"I welcome the presence and growing expression of providing assistance to PNG from international organisations and NGOs on the ground in Manus," he said.

However the international health provider, Médecins Sans Frontières, has been denied access to refugees on Manus, despite having been granted approval last week in order to check the men's health.

In his statement, the Minister requested that such organisations "work alongside relevant PNG government agencies and departments to provide any form of support and not directly engaging (sic) with refugees and non-refugees as that is the role of contracted service providers such as International Health Medical Services".

"I also encourage these international partners to verify accounts and include facts in their reporting and recognise the efforts of the PNG Government and its agencies in dealing with this very complex and challenging situation," said Mr Thomas.

The detention centre after police moved in.

The detention centre after police moved in. Photo: Supplied/ Behrouz Boochani

Wellington demonstration in support of detainees

Activists in Wellington have towed a liferaft around the capital to raise awareness of what they call a humanitarian crisis on Manus Island.

It follows large demonstrations across Australia over the weekend and a rally in Auckland yesterday.

An activist called Helen from Peace Action Wellington said New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern could do more than offering to take 150 refugees from Australian offshore detention.

"Which is the same offer made by John Key in a very different climate, and so we think it is a very lukewarm offer and Jacinda knew Australia would not accept it. So we really wanted to put the pressure on our government. This is a humanitarian crisis unfolding at the moment and we need to evacuate Manus Island of these refugees and bring them here to Aotearoa."

Activists from Peace Action Wellington.

Activists from Peace Action Wellington. Photo: RNZI

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