Manus Island at Boiling Point - NFP
15 January 2015 at 10:50 am
Hundreds of refugees at the Australian Government’s Manus Island detention centre have joined a hunger strike and are threatening their own lives in protest of the way they are being treated, according to asylum seeker advocates.
The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) has obtained images showing that the strike, which is believed to involve more than 500 detainees, included water pipes being broken in a move that could leave the centre without access to running water for several weeks.
Several detainees are believed to have sewn their lips shut in protest and are refusing medical treatment while there were also reports that a 39-year-old asylum seeker had swallowed razor blades.
The ABC is reporting that the man is part of Egypt’s minority Christian community and is fleeing religious persecution.
It has been claimed that he swallowed four razor blades before being taken to a medical centre for treatment.
A spokesperson for RAC said a “wave of protests” had swept through Manus Island, starting on Tuesday morning in the Mike Compound.
“Other compounds (were) expected to join the hunger strike on Wednesday as chants of “Freedom, What do we want, Freedom” were going back and forward between Mike, Foxtrot and Delta compounds on Tuesday night,” the spokesperson said.
“At least one asylum seeker in Mike Compound has stitched his lips in protest. The protest began on Tuesday morning as running water stopped on Manus Island –meaning there is no water for the showers or to wash. Hundreds of plastic bottles are piling up in shower blocks.
“Threats by guards to send in PNG police to disperse the protesters and force the asylum seekers in Mike Compound back to their rooms have only added to the fears and the tensions in the detention centre.”
The Not for Profit said the situation at Manus Island is at boiling point.
“Tensions have been rising in recent days as most of the asylum seekers approach 18 months of detention on Manus Island. There have also been threats that those who have been determined to be refugees will be taken by force into insecure accommodation at Lorengau, where they fear they will be vulnerable to attacks by locals,” the spokesperson said.
“The anniversary of the savage attacks in which Reza Barati was killed in Mike Compound is only a month away. Fears have been heightened in recent days by the actions of locals smashing the kitchen in Foxtrot Compound on Saturday, January 10, while more locals massed outside the compound fence.”
“The first group of refugees is expected to be moved to Lorengau on 22 January. The lack of security and the enforced stay on Manus Island without the possibility of work has highlighted the farce of resettlement in PNG.
“One message from Mike Compound said, “If we are sent to Lorengau, they [the locals] will kill us. Please help us.”
“Concerns for the future have also come to a head as the hundreds of asylum seekers who have refused to be processed on PNG have been told that unless they sign to be processed in PNG, they will be forcibly deported to their home countries.”
A Department of Immigration spokesperson said people on Manus Island were being supplied with bottled water during the strike.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is also calling on the Federal Attorney General to release the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report into children in immigration detention as the Manus Island dispute continues.