March 1, 2016
Refugee Action Coalition
PROTESTS OVER POINTS AND FOOD AS TENSIONS RISE ON MANUS ISLAND AS
COURT CHALLENGE LOOMS.
Around 9.00am this morning (Tuesday, 1 March), people found to be
refugees staged a protest at the canteen in Oscar Compound.
The protest stopped the opening of the canteen, and local staff were
withdrawn to the gates of Oscar Compound, as staff faced a crowd of
refugees fed-up with being denied “privileges” like excursions or
access to the canteen as a way of trying to force them to leave the
detention centre and live outside in the so-called transit
accommodation in East Lorengau.
Refugees, or “double positives”, as they are known in the detention
centre are tired of the injustice.
Asylum seekers and those who have been rejected obtain 50 points each
week – 25 from involvement in certain activities and 25 from the
Points can be used at the canteen, run by Broadspectrum, to obtain
such things as phone cards, shampoo and cigarettes. Fifty points gets
you six packets of cigarettes.
Those who are found to be refugees get no points.
Refugees are given the choice – accept the unfair treatment or agree
to leave the centre. There are only around 50 refugees who have been
willing to leave the detention centre and live at the transit
accommodation at East Lorengau.
Tensions are rising as the injustice has continued as the months drag
on. Conditions at the East Lorengau detention centre are also
deteriorating as refugees there are subject to a curfew and have
recently been told they now have to pay for their own prescriptions.
A major standoff erupted later, at lunchtime in Delta Compound over
the food. More than half the 200 detainees in Delta Compound have been
found to be refugees. There have been increasing complaints over the
food over the last weeks as food presented is out of date and is the
same day after day.
More than 30 security guards are now in Delta Compound after a
confrontation between detainees and the detention manager who told the
detainees to put their complaint in writing before have to be escorted
from the compound.
The deteriorating food and the increasing pressure on refugees to
leave the detention centre comes as Broadspectrum seem to be cutting
costs as the PNG Supreme Court hearing regarding the constitutionality
of the detention centre and the issues of alleged human rights abuses
of the detainees, draws closer.
At a status conference yesterday (Monday 29 February), a hearing
before Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, set down the matter for 4 April
in order to set the date for the hearing in the next sittings of the
Supreme Court between 25 and 29 April.
“The conditions of detention on Manus Island are intolerable. The
situation is not very different in East Lorengau. Many refugees fear
for their safety since Reza Berati was killed in Mike Compound on
February 2014,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action
“Most detainees are prescribed sleeping pills or sedatives to deal
with the torture inflicted on them. Denying points to refugees is
another form of the torture that is part of the offshore detention
regime. It has to stop.”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713