Detainees 'terrified' with reports of more unrest on Manus


SBS has been told by staff at the Manus Island detention centre that there has been another disturbance at the facility on Tuesday evening.

Mark Davis reported for Dateline from Manus Island last year and has been receiving calls from staff at the detention centre throughout Tuesday.

He says the latest updates he has been receiving from 7.30pm suggest there is another disturbance at the Manus Island detention facility.

Watch: Reports of more unrest on Manus, Mark Davis reports.


On Tuesday afternoon, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said he couldn't comment on reports that outsiders broke into the Manus Island detention centre and injured asylum seekers on Monday night.

Minister Morrison says the Australian government will be conducting an inquiry into two incidents at the Manus Island detention centre after an asylum seeker died in the second consecutive night of riots on Monday.

The PNG government says the individual was an Iranian who died in hospital from head injuries.  

A further 12 asylum seekers remain in a serious condition; one with a fractured skull is in hospital in Australia, one is in Port Moresby and there are plans for three others to be flown to the capital.

Mr Morrison says shots were fired on at least two occasions during the overnight violence.

But he can't comment on reports locals entered the centre and attacked asylum seekers with sticks and machetes.

"Nothing I've had reported to me today has any indication of a report of any machetes or things of that nature being used andd also I'm advise, and the reports that I have to date don't indicate any injuries that would be consistent with a weapon of that nature.

"The full picture we're still putting together and I can't give you an absolute report on that because there's conflicting reports at the moment and once those are resolved then I'd be in a position to report on it."

Mr Morrison says around 100 extra security staff are on standby to be flown to Manus Island if further rioting breaks out.

They fled to save their lives, detainee says

A man claiming to be a detainee at the Manus Island facility has reportedly telephoned an Australia-based asylum seeker advocacy group, describing the violence at the centre.

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre says it has a voicemail message from the unidentified man, who says asylum seekers on Manus had been peacefully protesting when staff at the centre told them they would never be settled in Australia regardless of their refugee status.

The audio cannot be independently verified by SBS.

The man says detainees were forced to leave the detention centre on the night of February 17 in fear for their lives.

"They said: 'you will not be settled in Australia but in PNG and you stay here for long time and you don’t have any hope even if you are genuine refugees',"

"This let people made another peaceful protest and finally some of PNG G4S staff decided to beat the transferees or asylum seekers and then some of us run away from the compound, just escape and secure their lives when they couldn’t secure their lives inside.

"And that was why the people run away from the compound but they didn’t run away from the compound to go to anywhere or to run away but they couldn’t secure their lives inside the compound so they tried to secure their lives outside the camp."

The man’s identity has not been released, for fears of reprisals.

Asylum-seeker killed in Manus unrest, Aileen Philips reports

Thirty minutes after the first phone recording, the detainee called again with an update of the situation at 11.30pm on February 17.

"This is the next time that G5S staff [inaudible] and the same time the PNG guys they attacked us before they switched off the electricity and then they attacked us with stones and with [inaudible at 6.39]…they are armed and are maybe like 200 or above"

"They broke down everything and they injured many, many of the transferees in this compound and I think at the same time maybe the other compounds they did to them. So we were locked in the rooms, still now we are in the rooms, I am talking to you now from the internet room and the telephone room. We locked the doors inside...I do not know until now if they killed many of us or they injured one of us. But it [inaudible]…everyone is bleeding."

The company responsible for security at the Manus Island detention centre, G4S, has refuted claims that attacks from locals and G4S staff forced detainees to breach the perimeter fence.

In a statement, G4S says order was restored "without the use of force".

Calls for closure of detention centre

Asylum seeker advocates warn that more detainees could die from injuries sustained during the riot, as they continue to camp out in the jungle outside the centre rather than seek medical treatment.
The incident followed days of tension within the facility, where 1300 asylum seekers are housed.

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne is demanding the detention centre be immediately closed following the death.

"This is exactly what has been threatened in what has become Australia's gulag," she said.

Watch: Should the Manus Island detention centre be shut? The Feed reports


But Mr Morrison says the incident has not changed the government's commitment to continue its offshore detention policy.

"The people who are in that centre will be processed in PNG according to PNG law. That’s the policy, there is no change to the policy and our relationship with PNG is as strong as it always has been," he said.

Meanwhile, PNG Prime Mnister Peter O'Neill has dispatched the nation's chief migration officer, Mataio Rabura, to Manus Island province to investigate the incident.

Source SBS

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch