Journalist detained on Manus calls for compensation
There's a call for the Australian government to provide compensation to a Kurdish Iranian journalist detained on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
A Kurdish Iranian journalist detained on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea says he wants compensation from the Australian government for holding him prisoner for political purposes.
The government of PNG plans to close Australia's detention centre on the island, and the journalist says most of its 850 detainees want to go to New Zealand.
Ben Robinson reports.
Behrouz Bouchani left Iran in 2013 after the office of his magazine was raided and 11 colleagues were arrested for promoting Kurdish culture.
By boat he fled to Australia, but for nearly three years he's been detained at the Manus Island facility which the PNG Supreme Court has ruled is illegal.
Mr Bouchani says he's been kept on Manus to deter other asylum seekers from coming to Australia and has joined a group of detainees seeking compensation.
"The Australian government put us in this hell prison for political aims and they have used our bodies to send a violent message around the world. This is our right that Australia pay us money or compensation."
As talks continue between Australia and PNG on what to do with Manus Island detainees, lawyers have filed an injunction in the Australian High Court to stop their transfer to the detention centre on Nauru.
Behrouz Bouchani says Nauru should not be an option.
"People in Nauru are in a very bad condition and they have mental problems now and really it's like a hell. But some people think they will go to New Zealand and the people really are happy with the New Zealand option. If you ask people the majority of them say that we want to go to New Zealand."
New Zealand's prime minister John Key says an offer to Australia to resettle 300 refugees over two years still stands, but he wont extend the same offer to PNG.
The lawyer representing Mr Bouchani and hundreds of other detainees on Manus Island, Ben Lomai, says the PNG Supreme court will soon hear his application to make Australia liable for the Manus Island detainees.
"There are three orders that we intend to seek against he Commonwealth of Australia. First is that we want them to be joined as the sixth respondent in our case. Second is that all the asylum seekers should be released into the care of the Commonwealth of Australia and third is that we want the Commonwealth to return all the asylum seekers back to Australia."
The Member of Parliament for Manus Island, Ronny Knight, is also calling on Australia to resolve alleged crimes and environmental damage perpetrated by staff at the detention centre.
Mr Knight says two are suspected of involvement in the murder of the detainee Reza Barati, while three others are accused of raping a local woman.
"We're still asking the Australian government to fulfill its obligations to make sure that when they leave those people involved in criminal activities have to brought back and charged, the three rapists and the two involved in the Reza Barati murder. We also expect Australia to repair the environmental damage in Los Negros where they've taken gravel out of agricultural blocks and illegally paid settlers on those blocks who have leases who have no right to sell minerals out of those blocks. And also to the environmental damage from all the waste dumping that they've put in. These have to fixed up before they leave and leave it as pristine as you took it."
Ronny Knight says the people of Manus Island are hostile towards staff and detainees of Australia's processing centre and are looking forward to its closure.
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