Papua New Guinea authorities have re-entered the mothballed detention centre on Manus Island and cleared the facility of all asylum seekers and refugees, end the weeks-long standoff inside.
About 350 men were inside the centre on Friday, after weeks of protest following the closure of the camp. The men -- a mix of asylum seekers and refugees -- maintain alternate accommodation is not ready and not safe. PNG authorities cut food, water and electricity to the site two weeks ago.
Video from inside the centre on Friday appeared to show PNG police hitting seated refugees with long metal poles.
Manus prison camp today pic.twitter.com/8LicQnNYo6— Behrouz Boochani (@BehrouzBoochani) November 24, 2017
SBS News reported on Friday afternoon that police had successfully cleared the centre of inhabitants, and transported them to new facilities elsewhere on the island.
"They've moved out of the camp," a spokesman for the Royal PNG Constabulary told SBS News.
"Nobody was forced, nobody was handcuffed and so on."
Reports from refugees in the centre claimed police had confiscated phones and dealt injuries to the men.
If what happened is not forcible removeable. how the govt will explain this beating, taken phones away chasing, many refugees got injured.— Abdul Aziz Adam (@Aziz58825713) November 24, 2017
Yesteday15phone were confiscated,I tried 2 get them back from PNG immi what I heard was "all has been smashed bc they took footage" #Manus— justice Manus (@JusticeManus) November 24, 2017
Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton said the government "welcomes this development" that the refugees had been moved from the old facility.
"Food services, cleaning, security and the ELRTC-medical clinic are all operational and have been available since October 31," Dutton said in a statement, claiming that refugees advocates had made "inaccurate and exaggerated claims of violence and injuries".
"What is clear is that there has been an organised attempt to provoke trouble and disrupt the new facilities. The Australian Government has been advised that some equipment has been sabotaged at the alternative accommodation centres, including damage to backup generators. Vandalism has also occurred to water infrastructure."
"The equipment is being repaired or replaced and the Government understands these matters are under investigation."
On Thursday police entered the camp and briefly detained journalist and asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani.
#AUS_PNG You Destroyed Our Life, We lost everything Familys, Friends, even own Self Respect, We will Never Forget Your Treatment, We Realized we Are Not human Beings, World Forget About us, We Are better killed Here In The New Prison Camp Lourengo Manus. #MANUSpic.twitter.com/c7Fi9FYXl4— Ezatullah kakar (@EzatullahKakar) November 23, 2017
"They beat us and they are using unacceptable words to us and we don't want fight with PNG Police and we are all crying leaving the camp to another camp," Ezatullah Kakar, an asylum seeker, wrote on Twitter.
"You destroyed our life, we lost everything families, friends, even own self respect, we will never forget your treatment.
"We realised we are not human beings, world forget about us, we are better killed here in the new prison camp."
Six buses carrying men from the Manus detention centre just turned into the East Lorengau transit centre.— Liam Fox (@liamfoxabc) November 23, 2017
Immigration minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have been unmoved by the mens' plight, weeks after Australia ceased operating the Manus camp which was set up as part of its regional immigration processing scheme.
Dutton welcomed the latest development, but lashed out at advocates supporting the men, accusing them of making "inaccurate and exaggerated" claims of violence and injuries on Manus.
"What is clear is that there has been an organised attempt to provoke trouble and disrupt the new facilities," Dutton said in a statement.
"The Australian Government has been advised that some equipment has been sabotaged at the alternative accommodation centres, including damage to backup generators. Vandalism has also occurred to water infrastructure."
He said equipment is being repaired or replaced, and the Government understands these matters are under investigation.
"Advocates should now desist from holding out false hope to these men that they will ever be brought to Australia," he said, urging them to engage with PNG authorities for resettlement either through the US resettlement process or in PNG.
The centre has been controversial from the start, with numerous rights agencies speaking out about the conditions at the centre.
More to come.