POLITICS

Manus Asylum Seeker Facing Deportation Begs Turnbull For Help In Confronting Video Message

'I'm asking for two days to get just one painkiller'.

04/04/2017 1:48 PM AEST | Updated 04/04/2017 5:56 PM AEST
Youtube
Azzam, in a still from the video posted to Youtube,

A Lebanese asylum seeker fighting deportation from Manus Island after having his refugee application refused has begged Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for help, claiming he has been refused medication.

The man, Azzam el Sheikh, has been marked for deportation from Manus Island, having been sent to the Australian immigration detention facility there after attempting to reach Australia by boat in 2013. Police have tried to remove him from the island twice, once last week and again on Monday, other asylum seekers claim, but Azzam resisted and was injured.

"He was seriously hurt on his neck, back and hand and they put him in Lorengau police station. This man has been on a hunger strike in the past few days," said Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian asylum seeker on Manus who regularly shares information about conditions inside the facility online.

Youtube

Boochani also claimed Australian Border Force staff were involved in the deportation efforts.

"The Australian Border Force invited him to a meeting, but took him by force from the meeting and put him in Lorengau police station," Boochani said last week.

Australia has offered asylum seekers up to $20,000 as incentives to return home, while deportations of those deemed non-genuine refugees began in February. In a statement, a spokesperson for Department of Immigration and Border Protection did not respond to questions about the Azzam's treatment or claims he had been denied medication.

"Papua New Guinea, with Australia's support, is working towards the closure of the Manus Regional Processing Centre. The Government of PNG has publicly stated that residents of the Manus RPC found not to be refugees have no lawful basis to remain in the country and must depart," the spokesperson said.

"For those non-refugees who have exhausted all appeals mechanisms, PNG have the option to remove them in accordance with normal international practise. These are matters for the Government of PNG."

In a secondary statement provided several hours later, the department also denied being involved in the deportations.

"The Australian Border Force has no role in the physical removal of non-refugees from PNG, or the detention of those individuals by PNG law enforcement," the spokesperson said.

In a video posted online on Tuesday, Azzam claimed he had been denied painkillers for his injuries. The video is shot in what appears to be a filthy prison cell, with stained walls and a disgusting toilet.

"I just have a small message for Mr Turnbull," he began.

"Probably I have broken my chest," Azzam said, referencing his injuries from resisting deportation.

"We end up in this place here, where I'm sure you won't accept to see any human or animal in a situation like this."

"I'm asking for two days to get just one painkiller, and they not came to check."

The camera rotates to show him lying down on the dirty floor, clutching a pillow, and he appears to be short of breath and in pain.

"I'm sure you don't have any idea about [what has] happened under Australian name," Azzam said.

"I'm sure you won't accept what's there. And I'm so sorry I'm showing you something like that."

The camera moves across the room to take in what appears to be a toilet, dirty and full of brown water.

"I don't know if I have any choice, they not listen. I told them I don't want any money," he said, in an apparent reference to the monetary incentives offered for asylum seekers to return home.

Boochani said Australian authorities have "been trying to pressure him to go back to Lebanon" but that Azzam "says he is in danger if he is sent back".

In the video, Azzam says he has been refused medication.

"Just one painkiller, and I will go back to my country," he said.

"I wish what you going to see now [is not] annoying you...I'm really sorry if what I'm showing you [is] annoying your feeling."

We have contacted the Prime Minister's office for comment.

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