Troublemakers at Manus
Doing it tough on Manus—the rabble claim!
They complained about inhuman conditions. Stirred up, advised by the bloody Greens they have lodged complaints with every available UN agency. They have blanketed global media with staged images of purported cruelty by the Australian government. They all have smart phones to take selfies? Does Australia want this calibre of malcontents roaming the streets and hallways of Centrelink? Surely this country can do much better for what it offers and tolerates—surely! SSM, dual citizenship, debt, electricity crisis, detention centres and more. Our politicians don’t deserve to be fed. They arrogantly believe we will vote for them again. I hope they are wrong!
The men in the singlets and dark sunglasses initially gave us the finger. They crouched low in their boat, seeking to hide their faces, and gestured violently behind their backs as their craft burst from the secluded cove on Manus Island’s northeast coast. But then they turned and urged their boatman to head in to shore. A well-muscled young man leapt out and walked over with a worried look.
Source: News Corp
Manus Island refugees refuse to go despite despair
“Who are you my friend? Are you government?’’ Ezatullah Kakar asked in a wary voice.
When I explained we were journalist and photographer, he offered his hand.
“Please, you come with us to see the centre,” he said.
For two days The Australian had sought to visit the shut-down detention centre but had been turned away from the gates of the Lombrum Naval Base, which encompasses the Australian-built complex on the tiny Papua New Guinea island. The reasoning behind the ban was not clear.
Australia’s detention centre was permanently closed on Tuesday at 5pm, when immigration staff left and the food services ceased. The site was returned to the PNG Defence Force and there were warnings that anyone who opted to remain inside the centre could be removed.
PNG Defence Force soldiers manning the front gate said yesterday they would allow only immigration officials, police, military or “the Greenpeace politician” — (Greens senator) Nick McKim — entry to the complex.
The vacuum created by the denial of access to the centre for independent media has been filled with news from the social media feeds of the asylum-seekers and contains claims of horrific conditions inside the centre. The reports emphasised that almost 600 men were barricaded inside, running out of water, had no food or medicine and did not wish to leave for fear their security could not be guaranteed in other accommodation on the island.
Now it emerges a small group of asylum-seekers from the centre have mounted a lightning raid via boat to try to snaffle vital supplies from Manus’s capital, Lorengau.
Kakar, who was known as a kickboxing champion, said he and his four friends had made the decision to make the raid to get food and medicines from town because “so many are sick and hungry inside the centre”.
“They are desperate,” he said. “We have to do something.’’
Kakar said that, when they saw us taking photos of them on the boat, they thought we were government and they would be arrested.
He showed us a package of medicine, mostly painkillers, that he had bought. Under the tarpaulin on the boat were about three boxes of food.
When the boat pulled up on the beach behind the centre, dozens of asylum-seekers rushed out into the ocean. Some wore pyjamas, others singlets and shorts and most looked happy.
Inside the centre, there was significant hardship and a mood of desperation. Some of the men have mental problems. They tugged constantly at us, begging for medicine.
Others demanded we see their cramped sleeping quarters, nearly crying and clutching at us, hoping we would take their picture or hear their story.
Inside their sleeping quarters the heat was so oppressive — unbearable after just a few minutes. In places the refugees had torn open the walls to let in air but with the air came the mosquitoes, they said.
By my side the whole time was Hussein, a Rohingya refugee who brandished a referral to the doctor for severe asthma. “Please take this: it shows I need medical attention,’’ he begged.
Asked why he stayed, he said: “I’m afraid. No security.”
Next to Hussein was a wild-haired middle-aged man who said his name was Goto Aslam. “Please, I have mental problems,” he said. “I need medication. My tablets have run out.’’
Like many of the men interviewed, both had been in the same camp for years and seemed horrified at the idea of leaving.
Many said they had not been outside the camp since they arrived years earlier and appeared almost hysterical about leaving.
In one section of the camp, the men had dug a makeshift well from which they lowered buckets but the colour of the filthy water hinted at the motivation behind Kakar’s raid to get supplies.
Outside the camp it is common knowledge that some of the locals who live on the naval base are allowing the men to access their water tanks.
Asked about the half a dozen men who had left the camp since it was closed, Kakar said they were starving and sick.
He said he had been in the camp for four years and was beyond frustrated. “But we are not going to leave,’’ he said.
Others were more desperate. Said one, as we were hustled back to the boat amid reports the police were coming: “Please take us anywhere from this place. We don’t need to go to Australia. Just anywhere where it’s safe.”
The Immigration Department said last night 587 men remained in the closed detention centre.