A third Iranian asylum seeker has been taken from his compound on Manus Island and is threatened with forced removal to Iran as early as this (Thursday, 27 August) morning.
Two other Iranian asylum seekers were removed in the week of the 13 August. All the removals have been carried out in defiance of legal action in PNG’s Supreme Court.
The 34-year-old man threatened with removal today, is one of the applicants named in a Supreme Court interim injunction issued on 25 August that prevents the removal of 26 specific individuals, until the court reconvenes today, 27 August.
“The attempt to remove the Iranian may well put the PNG immigration authorities in contempt of court. It is clearly an attempt to pre-empt the constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “PNG and Australian immigration authorities are stepping up efforts to intimidate people into signing to return to their home countries.”
The going rate for Iranians agreeing to return to their country is $10,000 but offers of $15,000 are routine.
The Supreme Court will consider the injunction and the PNG government’s action at a hearing this morning in Port Moresby. PNG immigration officials have already been referred to police for their action in ‘perverting the course of justice’ by removing on 13 August, the first of the Iranians, who was an applicant in the Supreme Court constitutional challenge.
The attempted removal comes at the same time as the visit of senior Transfield and Border Protection officers to the Manus detention centre. A team of five – two Transfield management and three Border Force officials – have met with community and compound leaders yesterday.
Complaints about staff behaviour, food, accommodation and communications have already been put to the officials by the detainees. “We are treated like criminals, not asylum seekers,” one Manus asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition, “We have complained so often that the food is out of its use-by date and food often has flies and insects in it.”
The high-level Border Force visit also comes following a bizarre display of traditional Manus dancers taken into the detention compounds on 25 August. On that afternoon, without any announcement, traditional armed dancers performed inside each compound.
“We believe they were warning us,” said one of the asylum seekers, “They want to pressure us to go back.”
International Organsation for Migration officers who have the contract for arranging ‘voluntary’ removals came into the compounds following the dancers – but found no-one willing to sign to back.
Video of the dancers in the compound is available on request.
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713