Australia’s offshore detention and processing policy on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG), amounts to the systematic abuse of hundreds of individuals. Ongoing reports of violence and the recent death of an Iranian man who had sought asylum underline the grave harm being done by Australia’s policy.
Hundreds of refugees and individuals seeking asylum from persecution are currently trapped on Manus Island, at risk of violent attacks and abuse at the hands of some locals. The refugees were forcibly transferred to Manus by the Australian government after attempting to seek protection in Australia. Many have been trapped on the island for several years. Australia’s deliberately abusive system has contributed to serious mental health problems and acute distress amongst the refugees and asylum seekers.
The refugees have been subjected to periodic physical attacks and verbal abuse by some locals and members of the police and armed forces. Amnesty International has documented several incidents of violence, including on 14 April 2017 when multiple bullets were fired into the Manus refugee detention centre by PNG soldiers. Over the past few weeks the situation has deteriorated, with several reports of attacks on refugees and asylum seekers by some community members. These attacks have reportedly resulted in extremely serious injuries requiring hospitalisation.
In this increasingly tense context on Manus Island, the body of 31-year old Iranian asylum seeker, Hamed Shamshiripour was found on 7 August 2017 in a forest near a facility known as the “Lorengau transit centre.” The cause and circumstances of his death are unknown. The latest attacks come at a time when the Australian and PNG authorities are trying to close the refugee detention centre on Manus and move refugees to another location on PNG – the Lorengau transit centre, a move that would put them at risk of further harm.