POLITICS

A Week Of Protests On Manus Continues After Attacks, Refugee Death And Power Shut Off

Oh, and reactions to Turnbull's chat with Trump.

08/08/2017 3:03 PM AEST | Updated 08/08/2017 3:09 PM AEST
Behrouz Boochani

Tuesday marks eight days of protests from refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island, as they demonstrate against power and water being shut off inside the regional processing centre, alleged violent attacks from locals, the Prime Minister's controversial call with Donald Trump, and the death of an Iranian man yesterday.

Protests began on August 1, two days after several refugees were allegedly attacked with machetes by Papua New Guinean locals and days after power, water and cleaning services were cut off from the Foxtrot compound, the largest building inside the Manus RPC.

The cutting off of utilities is the latest move to force the residents out from the centre and into the Manusian community, while the attacks -- seven in the last week, according to Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani, who has been in the Manus centre for several years -- are considered vindication of fears from refugees and local politician Ronny Knight that PNG locals would not welcome them into the community.

  • Behrouz Boochani
  • Behrouz Boochani
  • Behrouz Boochani

Boochani reported "hundreds" of the 800 men participated in the protests, which have run almost every day since August 1 -- except for August 7, the day another Iranian man was found dead outside the centre's gates.

"This protest is completely peaceful and we refugees are asking Australia and PNG to stop pressuring us to leave the camp and accept settlement in PNG," Boochani told HuffPost Australia.

"Several refugees have been attacked when they have gone outside the camp into the Manus community. We are not safe outside the fences and they are trying to make life impossible for us inside."

He said refugees and asylum seekers were "sitting down peacefully in the way" of local police who had attempted to enter the centre in recent days to continue the shutdown of the facility. Boochani said asylum seekers had managed to rig a connection from another building still connected to the electricity network to power the Foxtrot compound.

"We are protesting to tell Immigration to bring the power and water back. I think in any culture in the world it's so immoral to cut the power and water on innocent people who have committed no crime," he said.

In recent days, more alleged attacks have occurred. Refugee advocates have claimed to HuffPost Australia that two refugees were attacked by a group of up to 12 locals over the weekend, with one managing to escape but the other being left "severely injured".

It was claimed this man had been left vomiting blood, and was flown to hospital in Port Moresby for treatment. HuffPost Australia contacted the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection for comment, but the department referred questions to PNG police.

The protests also come just days after a leaked transcript published by the Washington Post suggested the much-vaunted refugee "swap" deal with the United States could be a dud.

The transcripts detailed Prime Minister Turnbull assuring an irate President Trump that the U.S. would not have to take a large number of refugees from Manus Island or Nauru -- in fact, they could take none, and still hold up their end of the deal.

  • Behrouz Boochani
  • Behrouz Boochani
  • Amir Taghinia

"It [the deal] does not require you to take any," Turnbull said.

"The obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose."

"You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1,000 or 100. It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to only go through the process."

Boochani said the men on Manus, who had been holding out hope for the U.S. resettlement deal to come off, had been rocked by news of the call.

"Australian people can see that the U.S. deal is a fake deal and its only purpose is to put the refugees through a long process to waste time. At this moment while we are protesting there is not any hope for the deal," he said.

"Immigration is telling us that we must leave the detention centre and go to the transit centre or go back to our own countries. That message means they are telling us we have no way to a safe future and we must destroy our future and lives. It is an impossible situation for us."

Manus island protests

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