Asylum seekers held at a detention centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, continue to be at risk following two nights of violence on 16 and 17 February which left one man dead and dozens of others seriously injured.
The Australian government is holding more than 1,300 asylum-seekers at a detention centre on Manus Island under harsh and humiliating conditions designed to pressure them to return to the countries they fled. Asylum seekers have protested peacefully against their indefinite detention and the conditions at the centre since December 2013. The protests descended into violence on 16 and 17 February, resulting in the killing of one asylum seeker – a 23 year old Iranian man Reza Berati - and injuries to at least 62 others. It is not clear what triggered the violence, but several witnesses have claimed that the injuries occurred when private security staff attacked asylum seekers with weapons including bats and machetes.
Asylum seekers who witnessed the attacks are at grave risk of retaliatory attacks or threats and intimidation, particularly as the investigation into the incident begins. Papua New Guinea has no witness protection program to ensure the safety of witnesses. Alleged perpetrators of the violence (guards and police from Papua New Guinea) continue to have access to the asylum seekers.
There are also concerns for the health and welfare of the asylum seekers. It is unclear whether those injured in the attacks are receiving the medical treatment they require, as healthcare facilities in the detention centre and in Papua New Guinea are limited.
Please write immediately in English or your own language:
- Calling for the immediate removal to Australia of all the asylum seekers who witnessed or were injured in the violence for their safety and protection;
- Urging the authorities to ensure that the asylum seekers receive appropriate medical treatment, including full rehabilitation and mental health services and have regular contact with family member and lawyers;
- Calling on them to ensure that all asylum seekers have the ability to seek legal redress for any injuries sustained including access to lawyers;
- Demanding an end of the offshore detention and processing of asylum seekers arriving by boat to Australia.