Asylum Seekers Self-Harming at ‘Volatile’ Australian Compound

Asylum-seeker detainees at an Australian-operated compound that was the scene of a fatal riot last year are harming themselves and creating a “volatile” situation, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said.

One man has been transferred out of the Manus Island Detention Centre in Papua New Guinea for medical assistance, Dutton told reporters today in Queensland state. Other detainees are being treated on-site, he said, declining to elaborate on the number or nature of their injuries.

More than 10 detainees at the compound, which houses 1,035 men, have sewn their lips together in protest, and there are reports of hunger strikes and a man swallowing a razor blade, the Sydney Morning Herald said yesterday, citing asylum seekers and refugee advocates it didn’t identify.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says his government is fulfilling an election campaign pledge to “stop the boats” after hundreds of asylum-seeker deaths at sea and an influx of refugees under the previous government. A riot took place at the Manus Island compound last February, resulting in the death of Iranian citizen Reza Barati and injuries to more than 70 people.

Asylum seekers intercepted in Australian waters without visas are either returned to their nation of origin or detained in offshore processing camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Those seeking to enter Australia by boat often come from conflict-affected Middle Eastern and South Asian nations.

Dutton, who replaced Scott Morrison as immigration minister last month, said there would be no softening of Australia’s stance under his watch.

“We as a government are absolutely determined to make sure that people who arrive by boat will not be settled in this country,” he said.

The government says its policy has resulted in the number of asylum-seeker boats arriving in Australia falling to one last year. Almost 1,200 asylum seekers died at sea under the previous Labor government, it said.

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