Asylum seekers’ protests continue on Manus Island

The daily protests by hundreds of asylum seekers on Manus Island that began on 25 January have now spread to all four compounds inside the detention centre.

Since 25 January, up to 500 asylum seekers in the Oscar compound, the most deprived of the compounds, have been staging daily protests.

On Thursday 30 January, the protests extended to Mike compound. And on Friday, 31 January, hundreds more asylum seekers were in involved in protests in all four compounds.

The asylum seekers, who have been held for months without any refugee assessment, are calling on the Australian government to end their indefinite detention.

The protests come at the same time as the finding by the PNG Supreme Court on 30 January that clears the way for Opposition leader, Beldan Nemah to proceed with his constitutional challenge to the agreement between PNG and Australia that underpins the Manus Island detention centre.

The Supreme Court also found that the detainees on the island have the rights to individually make a complaint to the National Court, or file a human rights enforcement application under the PNG constitution.

The Supreme Court was also critical that the Manus Island detention centre had not been scrutinised by PNG’s own human rights watch-dogs, saying, “It is perhaps surprising that two constitutional offices that should feel a great responsibility for protection and enforcement of human rights in Papua New Guinea – the Public Solicitor and the Ombudsman Commission – appear to have shown no interest in these issues.”

The protests on Manus Island are set to continue. One asylum seeker from Manus Island told the Refugee Action Coalition, “We will keep the protests until we get answers. The conditions here are very bad. We are refugees. We need the UN. Why are we being kept here? We came to Australia for protection.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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