The Manus Island detention centre on the weekend. Security staff entering Delta compound on Manus Island detention centre.
Peter Dutton accuses asylum seekers of ‘aggressive behaviour’
A stand off between asylum seekers and security guards on Manus Island came to a dramatic halt as Wilson guards stormed one compound on Monday.
Delta compound, which had been barricaded by asylum seekers who were refusing to eat or allow security guards inside, was forced open by the Emergency Response Team from Wilson Security carrying riot equipment.
It is believed a number of asylum seekers and one guard were injured in the affray. Refugee advocates also claim up to 30 men were “arrested” by the security guards.
Refugee advocate Sally Thompson said armed guards stormed the Delta compound where they searched for the ring leaders on Monday afternoon.
“There are quite a lot of injuries among the asylum seekers,” she said. It is understood that the injuries were mainly cuts and bruises.
“The armed guards were searching for people with phones,” she said.
“I believe they came in to force feed the men and give medical attention.”
On Sunday night water bottles had allegedly been removed by guards from reach of the asylum seekers in the Delta compound.
For seven days asylum seekers have been refusing to eat, staging a protest at being resettled in the Papua New Guinea community. Every day the men have chanted “freedom” as they refused to eat.
It is unknown whether the other three compounds – Foxtrot, Mike and Oscar – have stopped their hunger strikes.
Earlier on Monday, protesting asylum seekers were labelled “irresponsible” by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who had urged them to stop their hunger strike.
In a statement on Monday afternoon, Mr Dutton accused some asylum seekers of engaging in “aggressive behaviour”, rather than a peaceful protest.
“A number of transferees have regrettably engaged in aggressive behaviour over the weekend at the Manus Regional Processing Centre and that protest action is ongoing,” he said.
An asylum seeker in the Mike compound at the centre said that other asylum seekers had begun fighting with security guards at the weekend. He said the compound had become quieter on Monday afternoon as the protesting asylum seekers grew weaker without food or water, but remained resolute in their protest for freedom.
“We don’t need food or clothes, we need freedom,” the asylum seeker said.
Up to two-thirds of the population of the Manus Island centre had been refusing food as detainees grew desperate to avoid the Australian government’s plan to resettle them in PNG, which is expected to begin this week.
Mr Dutton also denied claims that the water in the centre had been “cut off”, but said protesters were preventing the delivery of food, water and medical services.
Refugee advocates had said that the water in the Delta compound had been completely cut off, forcing asylum seekers to drink from drains.
Fairfax Media has also confirmed some protesting asylum seekers were on the weekend taken to the centre’s Chauka compound – a smaller compound used to discipline those acting aggressively.
On Monday morning, PNG’s Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato, said protesting asylum seekers on the island had sewn their lips together, swallowed razor blades and had begun swallowing washing powder.
with Tammy Mills
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