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Issue #1801      November 1, 2017

Deliberate, callous, calculated

Hundreds of Manus Island people have signed a petition opposing the forced relocation of the men in the Manus detention centre and calling for the Australian government to take all the asylum seekers and refugees back to Australia.

The petition was presented (October 31) at the end of a march to Manus Provisional Government Office in Lorengau.

Meanwhile, the Australian government has stepped up the pressure on the refugees in the detention centre, as they ordered that water be drained from three water tanks at the Foxtrot compound.

Food is now only being provided in food packs until October 31 (as of writing) and a notice in the detention centre says that all service personnel will be withdrawn from the detention centre on October 31.

As tensions over the closure rise, some locals have pledged to provide food and water to the detention centre after the closure date. At one meeting, locals declared that they would block the road to prevent buses taking asylum seekers to the new Hillside Haus location.

Mental health crisis

The rising fear inside the detention centre is taking its toll on the detainees. While some locals have offered support, others have come to the detention fences threatening the refugees inside. With some fences removed and other sections damaged in a recent storm, there are fears that locals could access the centre as they did in February 2014, when Reza Barati was killed.

The fear has also exacerbated the mental health crisis on the island, and the concern that there will be no mental health care available on the island after the withdrawal of medical services from the detention centre.

Another detainee suffered a complete mental breakdown and was taken into secure care by IHMS (International Health and Medical Service) on October 28. But the government says IHMS is being withdrawn, along with all other services,e on 31 October. There is no provision for ensuring on-going medications for the over 600 people, let alone care for acute cases.

Legal action

Documents have been filed in the PNG Supreme Court in an attempt to get an injunction to stop the closure of the detention centre and any forced relocation, along with orders for the full restoration of accommodation, food, water, medical, sanitation and other services to the people being held by the Australian government, to ensure the basics of life as well as the protection of their human rights.

It is clear from statements made by the PNG Immigration Minister that the humanitarian disaster on Manus is being driven by the Australian government. It is Australia who has effective control of the detention centre.

In a statement, the Refugee Action Coalition points out that detention on Manus has been a humanitarian disaster for the last four years: there are surely few precedents for the government to have such deliberate, callous and calculated disregard for the safety of people supposedly in their care.

“The government must act immediately to stop the closure of the centre and the forced relocation of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus. The government must act to bring them here.”

Next article – Impressions of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution

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