| PNG police use batons in Manus operation

November 24, 2017


2017-11-24 00:05:36

Papua New Guinean police officers enter the closed Manus Island immigration detention centre.
Papua New Guinean police officers enter the closed Manus Island immigration detention centre.

Papua New Guinea police appear have used long metal batons to beat refugees and asylum seekers in the Manus Island detention centre, as authorities seek to clear the camp.

Video footage has been released showing local police hitting and threatening refugees.

It is understood police and immigration officials arrived around 7am (PNG time) as part of an ongoing operation to move the remaining 328 men at the now-closed facility.

But PNG police chief Gari Baki has told the ABC the relocations were being done “peacefully and without the use of force”.

“We are doing the best we can and the refugees cannot continue to be stubborn and defiant.”

Around 50 people were taken by bus from the centre on Thursday.

Behrouz Boochani, a journalist and asylum seeker at the centre, said the police had “attacked”.

“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 wrote on Twitter.

The centre, set up by Australia to process asylum seeker boat arrivals, was officially closed on October 31 but the men say the new facilities are unsafe and lack proper health services.

Police have seized food, water and personal items as they seek to pressure the men to leave.

The UN High Commission for Refugees has received reports of force being used to remove the refugees and asylum seekers and called for calm.

“We urge both governments to engage in constructive dialogue, to de-escalate the tensions and work on urgent lasting solutions to their plight,” the UNHCR said in a statement, noting it lacked full access to the centre.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said it was important the men left the centre and entered the “much better accommodation” as quickly as possible.

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