Dutton confirms Manus refugees, asylum seekers cleared from detention centre


The three-week standoff at the former Manus detention centre has been broken after refugees inside reluctantly decided to leave amid accusations of violence against the men.

The decommissioned Manus Island detention centre has been cleared out with all 328 refugees who were refusing to leave moved on to new facilities, amid accusations violence was used to push them out.

The development brought to an end the more than three-week long standoff by refugees barricaded inside the centre since its official closure on October 31.

PNG Police confirmed to SBS News all of the men were moved to new accommodation.

"They've moved out of the camp," a spokesman for the Royal PNG Constabulary told SBS News.

"Nobody was forced, nobody was handcuffed and so on."

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the government welcomed the development, but disputed claims of violence.

Dutton: Footage doesn't add up to facts on the ground
Dutton: Footage doesn't add up to facts on the ground

“Advocates in Australia are again today making inaccurate and exaggerated claims of violence and injuries on Manus, but fail to produce any evidence to prove these allegations.

“What is clear is that there has been an organised attempt to provoke trouble and disrupt the new facilities.”

Mr Dutton claimed equipment including to water infrastructure and backup generators were damaged in the process.

“The equipment is being repaired or replaced and the Government understands these matters are under investigation. “

Refugees on Friday morning reported being attacked and beaten by officials. 

GetUp! have released video footage it claims shows local police hitting and threatening refugees.

In the video uploaded on Facebook by the advocacy group, officers appear to use long metal batons to beat refugees and asylum seekers at the centre.

Refugee Samad Abdul told SBS News the men decided to leave fearing further violence. 

"All of us are leaving," he said.

"Guys were scared and slowly, slowly all of us have decided to leave. They were so aggressive."

The UNHCR said it was concerned about the reports of attacks against the refugees on Friday morning.

“UNHCR is disturbed by footage and reports from refugees that they have been beaten and forcibly moved from the former ‘Regional Processing Centre’ on Manus Island," UNHCR's Regional Representation in Canberra, Catherine Stubberfield, told SBS News in a statement. 

Ms Stubberfield said the transfer to the new facilities was not the end of the saga, with ongoing concerns for the group's wellbeing and safety.  

"Extremely vulnerable people have merely been moved into a situation of further hopelessness, after a preventable period of significant distress and physical harm," she said.

"It is now more important than ever that comprehensive services, including physical security and robust medical care, are significantly reinforced, and that torture and trauma counselling and interpretation are reinstated immediately.”

Journalist and Kurdish refugee Behrouz Boochani, who was taken to one of the new accommodation facilities at East Lorengau, reported four buses full of people arrived there on Friday morning.

Behrouz Boochani says some refugees are in hospital after their removal from detention centre
Behrouz Boochani says some refugees are in hospital after their removal from detention centre

On Thursday, PNG Police said 50 men were moved to the new facilities after authorities moved them on three buses.

There were 328 refugees still refusing to move as at Thursday night.

World Vision’s Tim Costello, who is on the island, disputed Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's assertions the new centres were ready and there were only "cosmetic" issues at the new sites.

"I got into (West Lorengau transit centre) and I can tell you that this is a construction site it is not finished there is moving equipment, open drains," he told ABC radio.

Mr Costello called for a special envoy to be appointed as a solution to the issue.

"If Peter Dutton doesn't trust humanitarian workers like me or the UNHCR, get a special envoy in here and get a solution because it's doing damage to our reputation in New Guinea, our reputation internationally and there are solutions."

Tim Costello on Manus: 'without hope, without a solution this problem goes on'
Tim Costello on Manus: 'without hope, without a solution this problem goes on'

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