There are ongoing concerns for hundreds of refugees as authorities forcibly relocated men from the Lombrum detention centre, Manus Island, on 23 November, three weeks after all essential services were shut down. These refugees and asylum-seekers remain at further risk of violence from members of the local community and security forces.
Authorities sent police and immigration officials, armed with sticks and knives, into the Lombrum detention centre at around 8am on 23 November. Officials announced that the estimated 420 remaining refugees and asylum seekers had one hour to prepare for relocation. However, after several hours of peaceful resistance, officials destroyed their food and rainwater supplies and forcibly moved some refugees onto transport buses to other detention facilities on the island.
Officials arrested and detained for more than two hours Behrouz Boochani, a refugee and leading human rights activist and journalist. Around 40 men were forcibly removed, with some refugees saying they witnessed others being beaten or injured in the move. Police are threatening to forcibly move the hundreds of men still at the centre.
On 31 October, the Australian government withdrew all personnel and services from the detention centre, where refugees and asylum-seekers were sent as part of Australia’s cruel and illegal ‘offshore processing’ policies. The more than 600 men were told to move to so-called ‘transit’ centres closer to town, increasing risks to their safety. The new facilities are not yet complete and do not have secure fences or a proper power supply.
The refugees and asylum-seekers have peacefully resisted moving as they fear for their personal safety. Locals have previously attacked refugees, sometimes with machetes, and left several individuals badly injured. The authorities have taken no action to adequately protect the refugees from such violence.