Brutual police crackdown on Manus Island refugees

Author
news.com.au,
Section
World,
Publish Date
Friday, 24 November 2017, 2:07PM
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Papua New Guinea police resumed the eviction of refugees from a shuttered Australian detention camp today, with asylum-seekers saying the three-week standoff appeared to be ending.

Some 320 detainees remained in the camp on PNG's Manus Island after police raided it on Thursday and moved a first group of 50 refugees to new, PNG-run transit centres.

The Australian camp, which initially housed around 600 refugees, was shut and water and electricity cut off on October 31 after a PNG court ruling. But many refugees had refused to move to the three new sites citing fears of hostile locals.

"This morning police attacked the prison camp and the refugees are saying that they beat them," Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani, who has acted as an unofficial spokesman for the men, tweeted early Friday.

"The refugees are going to leave the prison camp. So many are in the buses and are on the way to the new camps," he said.

The ransacked immigration camp on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Photo / Refugee Action Coalition via AP

The ransacked immigration camp on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Photo / Refugee Action Coalition via AP

Boochani had been in the camp but was moved to one of the new sites on Thursday, PNG police said.

Video footage posted by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) in Victoria on Twitter also emerged, showing refugees hiding as PNG police stormed the camp again.

The men who filmed the footage hid as police smashed belongings and shouted at refugees.

Human Rights Watch's Australian director Elaine Pearson tweeted that some of the men "have been taken by force onto buses".

"One tells me 'they beat me, my leg is very painful.'" Video posted on Twitter appeared to show men in the camp being hit with long sticks.

The ransacked immigration camp on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Photo / Refugee Action Coalition via AP

The ransacked immigration camp on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Photo / Refugee Action Coalition via AP

Australian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent Liam Fox, who is on Manus, tweeted that six buses carrying men from the camp had arrived at one of the transit centres.

The three-week standoff with PNG authorities has drawn attention to Australia's harsh policy of sending asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat to remote Pacific camps on Manus and Nauru.

The refugees are barred from resettling in Australia, but Canberra has struggled to transfer them to third countries, including the United States.

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