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Issue #1731      May 18, 2016

“Close Manus prison now”

Protests began inside the Manus detention centre – at Mike and Fox Compounds – in Delta and Oscar Compounds on May 13. In Delta, the banner reads: ”Trafficked illegally here. Close Manus prison now.”

Photo: Anna Pha

Asylum seekers and refugees are growing tired of the delay in closing the detention centre and releasing them from the hell of the last almost three years.

“People are tired and are demanding to leave to Manus forever. The Supreme Court ordered that the government must take us from here,” one refugee told the Refugee Action Coalition from Manus.

The detainees are growing angry at the deliberate attempts by the Australian government to thwart the decision of the PNG Supreme Court that declared that the detention centre was unlawful, at the end of April.

The protests are expected to escalate as frustration with the wait for freedom grows.

Despite statements from the PNG Immigration officials saying that the Manus detention centre is open, neither asylum seekers nor refugees can walk out of the centre which is on a naval base. The arrangements have not changed at the centre.

People are required to register and then take an official bus to the settlement at Lorengau. Although, up to 100 asylum seekers from Mike and Fox have taken the ride to Lorengau, over a number of days, only two from Foxtrot went outside. Very few refugees have gone outside at all.

“The refugees do not want to be seen to cooperate in any way with the PNG regime that has been put in place by the Australian government,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “Every day the Australian government stalls on bringing everyone from Manus to Australia is another day they breach the Supreme Court orders and the human rights of the prisoners on Manus.

“The Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is trying to stall until after the federal election.”

Critical refugee mother

A 22 year-old Somali refugee mother, Naima, and her premature baby boy, have been airlifted, in separate planes, from Nauru in emergency circumstances. Both were considered to be in critical condition when they left Nauru. Naima is on life support in a Brisbane hospital after the evacuation.

Naima underwent a caesarean operation on Nauru and the baby was born one month premature. Naima and her baby were airlifted in separate planes. The air ambulance carrying Naima landed at Brisbane with the plane carrying the baby leaving Nauru three hours after his mother to Brisbane.

“This emergency medical evacuation raises even more questions about the standard of health care on Nauru. The Minister needs to come clean on the real standards of the Nauru hospital,” said Ian Rintoul.

Doctors for Refugees Dr Barri Phatarfod said if Naima died it would be the Department of Immigration’s fault.

“Without a doubt the Immigration Department has put the life of this woman and any other pregnant woman in significant danger by making them have their deliveries in Nauru,” she said.

“It is an absolutely horrible situation. The mother is gravely ill and she is a young mum, she is 22, at the perfectly healthy age for a woman to give birth.

“If she dies it is as a direct result of the government’s policies that force these women to give birth on Nauru.

“This is the third case we have seen coming out of Nauru where there has been either a tragic outcome or an incredibly distressing outcome.

“Ever since the government stopped routinely bringing pregnant women from Nauru to Australia to have their delivery, something like this was bound to happen,” she said.

“We only know that something didn’t go to plan, she’s now in a critical condition, she was intubated... and we don’t know how likely the baby is going to recover either.”

Dr Phatarfod said Naima suffered from the high blood-pressure condition, pre-eclampsia. “She apparently had a seizure on Nauru at five months,” Dr Phatarfod said. “She should have been [medical evacuated] out at that point.”

Next article – Maritime workers not forgotten

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