–Manus Island detainees plead to Papua New Guinea for transfer to ‘safe’ nations

October 13, 2017

Asylum seekers held on Manus Island have urged Papua New Guinea to distance itself from Australia’s refugee policy and help them relocate to “safe” countries.

In a handwritten letter, addressed to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and other members of the government, the detainees urge authorities to oppose Australia’s plans to resettle them in surrounding PNG communities.

Refugees were reportedly attacked by locals during riots in 2014 and again in April this year when men tried to storm the facility.

The detainees are expected to be ejected from the centre when it shuts on October 31, but say they fear further violence.

“We have been held in your country against our wishes and have been denied our liberty and have been tortured in your country,” says the letter, which was circulated to media by the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Please do not go along with (Australia’s) mistreatment of humans.”

PNG’s Supreme Court ruled, in 2016, detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island was unconstitutional, forcing Australia to relocate the detainees.

The letter’s author said Australia should honour its commitment to the United Nation’s Refugee Convention and grant asylum – or help the refugees relocate to a safe country like New Zealand.

New Zealand has previously offered to resettle some of the refugees.

Six refugees have died on the island in four years, including a suicide earlier this month.

The letter, which contained dozens of signatures, warned of future deaths.

“If something happens to us, PNG, you will be responsible because you are supporting this cruel policy with Australia,” it says.

The letter comes a few days after eligible detainees were reportedly offered transfers to Nauru to await resettlement in the United States.

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