18 Feb 2014

Asylum-seeker dies in Manus brawl

9:43 pm on 18 February 2014

Two days of rioting at an Australia-run detention camp in Papua New Guinea has left one asylum seeker dead and as many as 77 injured.

Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the clashes erupted after asylum seekers forced their way out of the centre on Manus Island.

One of the first group of asylum seekers at the Manus Island centre in August 2013.

One of the first group of asylum seekers at the Manus Island centre in August 2013. Photo: AAP / Department of Immigration and Citizenship

The facility is part of the Australian government's tough stance against asylum seekers but it has come under fire over human rights concerns.

The ABC reports that the Australian Government is now promising a full inquiry into the incident.

The person, whose nationality has not been disclosed, died on the way to hospital after suffering a head injury during a second night of rioting and fighting at the camp on Manus Island.

Of the 77 people who received treatment following the riot, 22 people suffered minor injuries, 13 suffered serious injuries and one was in a critical condition.

One of the injured has been flown to Australia for treatment and another one will follow.

Assaults alleged

There have been unconfirmed reports of Papua New Guinea police and civilians assaulting the asylum seekers, whose camp was re-opened in 2012 when Australia revived its policy of processing them abroad.

The reports say no Australian security personnel were at the camp when the assault took place and Mr Morrison says all Australian staff are accounted for.

There are no reports of arrests of the perpetrators of the violence.

Australia has also said that asylum applicants found to be refugees who had arrived by boat will be settled outside Australia.

A man has described the frantic phone call he received from his asylum seeker brother, who was left "covered with blood" after violence erupted at the Manus Island detention centre overnight.

Local people

Ghulam Murtaza, who fled Pakistan and is in Australia on a bridging visa, has told the ABC his brother Ghulam Mustafa told him police and locals were trying to force the asylum seekers from the detention centre.

"He was crying and he was shouting. He said, 'the local people of Manus Island and police are fighting with us'," he said.

"[He said], 'the local peoples on Manus Island are throwing stones on us. They have guns ... and they have sticks and they are going to kill us'."

Mr Murtaza said his brother urged him to get a message to the media to "help us ... or we will all die".

"My brother said, 'I am also injured. I am covered with my blood. Someone hurt me by stones and sticks. I don't know when I will talk to you again'," he said.

Call for closure

Mr Murtaza says his brother told him the violence erupted after asylum seekers were told they would be in PNG for at least 10 years.

The Australian Green Party is calling for the closure of the detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

But the Australian immigration minister, Scott Morrison, says there will be no change to government policy.

But Sarah Hanson-Young, from the Australian Green party, says the camp should be shut down.