Broken processing promises fuel tensions on Manus Island

| April 18, 2013 | Reply

On 13 March, Immigration officers told asylum seekers on Manus Island that their refugee assessments would begin in ‘two or three weeks’. More than a month later, there is no sign of any processing.

The broken promise has fuelled tensions and protests on the island. Two asylum seekers stitched their lips and up to 70 single male asylum seekers began a hunger strike on Friday, 12 April.

The protest ended on the 15 April, only after threats and physical beatings. The two asylum seekers who had stitched their lips were taken out of the camp and returned hours later with the stitches removed after being told that any protest would “be bad for them” and go against them in their refugee assessment.

Similar threats were made against the other protesters.

“We were forced to end our protest, but there is no processing. We are in a bad situation. They are constantly harming us,” one asylum seeker on Manus Island told the Refugee Action Coalition.

The heat and humidity is a constant issue. Constant power failures mean that there are no fans. “We can’t sleep. And the tents and beds are wet because of the humidity. When the water is stagnant around the tents, the smell is disgusting,” RAC was told. Sewerage pipes from the detention centre empty into the ocean just outside the detention centre and effluent often washes onto the beach.

“The Immigration Department has condemned Manus Island. They place is unfit for human habitation, yet 29 children are still forced to stay there. It should be closed,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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