News National Hundreds of men on Manus Island will be moved with ‘force’

Hundreds of men on Manus Island will be moved with ‘force’

About 600 men say they will continue to peacefully resist being moved out of the Manus Island centre.
About 600 men are pictured protesting their forced removal from the Manus Island processing centre to three alternative sites. Photo: Supplied
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Refugees and asylum seekers have been warned they will be moved by force out of Australia’s offshore processing centre on Manus Island.

About 600 men remain at the Lombrum site after food, water and electricity were withdrawn more than a week ago.

“You are given two days to move,” a two-page notice distributed on Thursday said.

“If necessary, force may be used to relocate those who refuse to move voluntarily for your own sake.”

The men were also threatened with “arrest and prosecution” if they remained at the site after fencing is demolished. Workers began dismantling the fences on Thursday.

“Safety here is not guaranteed,” said the notice, signed off by the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority.

Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani told The New Daily the men would continue to resist the move despite the warning.

“We have shown peaceful resistance to send a message that we are not going to leave this prison camp for another prison camp and we don’t want to live in PNG where we are not safe,” Mr Boochani said.

“Using force is completely unacceptable … We are asking again for freedom in a safe third country.”

Workers could be seen dismantling fences at the site on Thursday. - Manus Island, refugees
Workers could be seen dismantling fences at the site on Thursday. Photo: Supplied

The PNG Defence Force will retake control of the site, and Mr Boochani said the men were “extremely scared” after navy personnel shot at them on Good Friday this year.

The men also fear for their safety at the three alternative centres in Lorengau after being attacked in the area over recent months.

Afghani refugee Basir Ahmadi told The New Daily he feared both options, to resist or move. Speaking through an online translator, he said he was unsure what he would do.

Samad Abdul, from Pakistan, said he was scared but would resist the move.

“If they can take me by force or if they wanna beat me, fair enough. But I will never go there by my choice.”

On Wednesday, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said “ringleaders” behind the standoff had been identified.

“Those involved in disruption have been identified and appropriate means will be used to apprehend individuals who are causing unnecessary anxiety and violence,” he said in a statement.

The notice put up on Thursday said the men needed to leave the unhygienic conditions at the centre for their health.

“You cannot continue to remain here in this condition. It is very bad for your health and wellbeing if you continue to refuse to move to your new accommodation where there is food, water, electricity and other services,” the notice said.

“You may become very sick under these conditions of overflowing sewerage, heaps of rubbish, no clean running water, no electricity and no food.”

Witnesses on Manus Island have claimed one of the three alternative sites, West Haus, remains unfinished. Photos appear to show unfinished plumbing, sewerage and fencing.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the claims were “rubbish”.

Greens Senator Nick McKim, who returned to Manus Island on Thursday, said the threat of force was “unprecedented and potentially highly dangerous”.

The men at the Manus Island centre dug a well in search for water.
The men at the Manus Island centre dug a well in search of water. Photo: Supplied

“Lives are now at risk because of Dutton’s escalation of a humanitarian emergency,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

He called on Australia to “evacuate the men to safety”.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday rejected New Zealand’s renewed offer to resettle 150 refugees.

Mr Turnbull left the door open to reconsider Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s offer after the arrangement with the Trump administration has concluded.

Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann on Thursday accused Senator McKim of “political tourism”, but said a Labor government would take up the NZ offer.

A total of 54 refugees from Manus Island and Australia’s other offshore processing centre on Nauru have been resettled in the US.

A spokesperson from the US Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration said the men’s cases were proceeding on different timelines.

“We expect that other refugees will be resettled in the coming months,” the spokesperson told The New Daily.

An interim injunction to restore essential services, launched in the PNG Supreme Court on behalf of Mr Boochani, was rejected on Tuesday.

The men have snuck in food and rationed it between them. They have showered in the rain, and jerry-rigged pipes into rubbish bins to collect rainwater. They dug deep holes in the ground until they hit water to create makeshift wells.

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