Increasing levels of violence by police appear to be bringing an end to the confrontation at Australia's former Manus Island regional detention centre in Papua New Guinea, where hundreds of asylum seekers have been refusing to move to new facilities.
For years, Australia had sent would-be refugees who arrived by boat to the centre. But in April 2016 the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ordered its closure after finding that the detention of asylum seekers there was illegal, and it was officially closed at the end of October 2017.
However, hundreds of detainees refused to leave, citing fears for their safety, given tension between them and the local community, as well as mistrust of the Australian authorities.
With police moving to end the standoff, photos and video are popping up on social media, with many yet to be verified. Pakistani detainee Ezatullah Kakar posted this message with video appearing to show police wielding batons and roughly grabbing detainees:
#AUS_PNG You Destroyed Our Life, We lost everything Familys, Friends, even own Self Respect, We will Never Forget Your Treatment, We Realized we Are Not human Beings, World Forget About us, We Are better killed Here In The New Prison Camp Lourengo Manus. #MANUS pic.twitter.com/c7Fi9FYXl4
— Ezatullah kakar (@EzatullahKakar) November 23, 2017
Iranian journalist and detainee Behrouz Boochani has been one of their voices. Yesterday he was held under arrest for two hours before being forcibly relocated.
— Jarrod McKenna ن (@jarrodmckenna) November 23, 2017
Boochani tweeted afterwards:
I’ve just been released. They hancuffed me for more than two hours in a place behind the prison camp. The police commander yelled at me ‘you are reporting against us.’ They pushed me several times and broke my belongings. Will write more about it later.
— Behrouz Boochani (@BehrouzBoochani) November 23, 2017
Earlier, 12 Australians of the Year had raised their concerns about the situation on Manus, calling on the Australian government to restore basic services at the centre:
12 former Australians of the Year condemn Aust Govt's action on Manus, calling for urgent humanitarian intervention https://t.co/DcttZTYr8W
— David Manne (@david_manne) November 22, 2017
Not everyone on social media agreed with them. Robert Johnstone posted this comment on a Facebook update by Behrouz Boochani:
Good on Minister Dutton for his tough stance on this . These so called refugees are grown up
People and knew what they were embarking on when they jumped in a boat . No one twisted their arms , they are solely to blame for their predicament. If you want to
come to our country come the proper way not through the backdoor like a crim.
The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his immigration minister Peter Dutton continue to implement a tough stance on the matter. Some would like them to be held to account in court:
— Tracie Aylmer (@taylmer) November 23, 2017
The Manus standoff had already been receiving international attention and not just from the UN refugee agency:
UNHCR – Australia urged to ensure protection, assistance and solutions for refugees on Manus Island https://t.co/yUOxOUNMhO
— UNHCR News (@RefugeesMedia) November 21, 2017
This is outrageous but I am so glad you are out (though far from free). Everyone should be following @BehrouzBoochani for direct dispatches from inside the prison camp on #ManusIsland https://t.co/3zThvX5Kfo
— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) November 23, 2017