Under the close supervision of the Australian government, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) police force has violently terminated a month-long standoff with starving asylum seekers imprisoned on PNG’s remote Manus Island. Despite ongoing protests in Australia by many thousands of outraged people, police forcibly removed the remaining 348 men from the now defunct Australian-controlled detention camp last Friday.
The assault began last Thursday, when police officers targeted 50 detainees, including those who had sought to expose the ongoing attacks on their basic democratic rights, including to seek asylum. Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian-born journalist who had reported extensively from the camp, said he was handcuffed for hours and had his belongings destroyed.
On Friday, baton-wielding PNG police beat asylum seekers and smashed up their possessions. Australia’s Special Services Broadcasting (SBS) television screened damaging images of men with lacerations and welts across their bodies. In one brief video clip, three PNG policemen were shown yelling and threatening an asylum seeker with metal poles, as he desperately tried to protect himself on the ground. In the background, one could hear the frantic cries of other men, fearing for their safety.
Samad Abdul, a Pakistani refugee, said he was hit during the raid. “The police are so aggressive,” he said. “They are telling us, ‘you should go back to your country.’ They are swearing at us. Everyone is scared, everyone is just terrified.” Abdul commented: “We don’t have any option to stay here. All of us, we all are going.”