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Refugee activists dispute official version of Easter violence on Manus Island

Aran Mylvaganam addresses protestors in Melbourne

Conflicting accounts have emerged about the Easter violence at the Manus Island detention centre.Protesting in Melbourne, refugee activists have disputed claims by officials shots were only fired in the air and say the incident highlights how dangerous the Papua New Guinea facility has become.Gareth Boreham has the details.

There's been marching through city streets after more violence in off-shore detention centres, thousands of kilometres away.

Emotions were running high as activists related stories from behind the razor wire.

Aran Mylvaganam, from the Tamil Refugee Council, is urging more compassion.

"We as people have a duty to protect these refugees. Refugees who have fled brutal regimes shouldn't be subject to the same level of torture by our government."

Papua New Guinea authorities are investigating reports drunken soldiers opened fire on Friday night at asylum-seekers and staff on Manus Island.

Refugee advocate Evita Hofstetter says the detainees have been left terrified.

"I have had contact with people saying no-one has come here to de-brief us or to counsel us. A lot of guys are hiding inside their rooms, they are too afraid to come out."

Lachlan Marshall, from the Refugee Action Council, says photos of walls riddled with bullet holes, they say, contradict the official line shots were only fired into the air.

"This is a miracle that no asylum-seekers, no refugees, were killed. There were over a hundred shots shot into the detention centre."

While the centre is slated for closure by the end of the year, these protesters say it is simply not safe to keep refugees on Manus while they wait indefinitely for the United States to decide how many asylum-seekers it will take under the controversial agreement with Australia.

Even if some are accepted by the US, hundreds will miss out and the Refugee Action Council's Chris Breen fears for their future.

"And Turnbull has no solution for those people other than indefinite detention and as the attacks have shown, people are not safe while they are waiting for a deal that may not go ahead in any case. The only humane solution that would ensure that no-one is left behind, that families aren't separated, is to bring all of the men on Manus back to Australia now. Australia sent them there, it can bring them back."

But the Federal Government is continuing to stand firm on its policy that to deter dangerous journeys by boat, none of the detainees on Manus or Nauru will be settled here.

 

 

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