Activists Protest Chaos on Manus Island
WORDS BY CONNOR PARISSIS
Unfolding on Manus Island is what the United Nations is calling a humanitarian emergency. Six hundred refugees have been stranded on Manus Island after the Papua New Guinean High Court ruled the detention centre unconstitutional, and was officially closed and returned to the PNG Defence Force on Tuesday 31st October. Power, food and water supplies have been cut from the site, and the people have been offered by the Papua New Guinean government to relocate to three sites in the town of Lorengau. The refugee’s however have reported that they fear for their safety if they leave, and have resorted to digging deep holes in muddy terrain for water, and are suffering from starvation.
The United Nations has stated that Australia is responsible for the welfare of those trapped on Manus Island. On Friday 3rd November, activists in Sydney and Canberra protested at the Department of Immigration and Border Protections. At 10:00am, protesters occupied both offices; in an attempt to demand the immediate evacuation of Manus Island refugees to Australia. Among the protesters was Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, who joined the occupiers to protest “the shocking situation on Manus Island,” and blamed the “Australian government and their racist policies.” She was however not allowed entry by security.
Sydney University student, and refugee activist, Daniel Cotton stated, “the situation on Manus island has reached crisis point. Looming over the camps is the threat of a take-over by PNG paramilitary groups infamous for violence and human rights abuses.”
The protesters planned on occupying the Department of Immigration and Border Protection offices in Canberra and Sydney until they received a statement from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, confirming the six hundred refugees would be evacuated to Australia. The protest was quickly shut down as police arrested three people in Sydney, with reports that one was “dragged out, their hair stepped on and pulled out,” by five officers. Following their eviction from the premises, the protesters continued by marching to Tanya Plibersek’s office to demand a stronger Labor position, with the current Labor government still in favour of offshore detention.
The situation on Manus is reaching a critical boiling point. Refugee Behrouz Boochani, currently on Manus island, stated on Tuesday that “the police already, they beat some of the refugees and the local people. They attacked the refugees and rob them. This place is not a safe place.” Now is the time for the people of Australia to assure our government that enough is enough, and that we should free the refugees and bring them here.
You can find more direct reports on Boochani’s twitter, @BehrouzBoochani.
Alternatively, contact Peter Dutton via 62777860
To get further involved in the right for refugee rights, join the University of Sydney Campus Refugee Action Collective and the University of Technology Sydney Anti-Islamophobia group.