G4S accused of violence at Papua New Guinea Detention Centre
On Monday a protest broke out at an immigration detention centre on Papua New Guinea's northern island, Manus. The detention centre, which has been described as "cruel" and "inhumane" by the United Nations' High Commissioner, is home to over 1000 immigrants, primarily from southern Asia and the middle-east, seeking asylum in Australia.
Although details of the unrest are unclear and are currently being investigated by Papua New Guinea's police, numerous accounts claim that local G4S security guards beat detainees with sticks, rubber hoses and pipes; that armed locals were invited to help control angry detainees; and local police opened fire to 'calm things down'.
The violence, which was said to have started when protesting detainees pushed their way outside the camp, was reported to have lead to the death of one Iranian man and 77 people needing medical attention.
Scott Morrison, Australian Immigration Minister, commented on the events. "This is a tragedy, but this was a very dangerous situation where people decided to protest in a very violent way and to take themselves outside the centre and place themselves at great risk.”
Ian Rintoul, spokesman for Australia's Refugee Action Group provided a conflicting statement: that the asylum seekers held within the detention centre had claimed to have been attacked inside the camp. He commented that "It must be clear now that asylum seekers cannot live safely on Manus Island.”
Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, was reported to have said "We will not succumb to pressure, to moral blackmail...We will ensure these camps are run fairly, if necessary, firmly."
A G4S statement said: "we take these allegations seriously and we as a company do not tolerate violent or abusive behaviour from our staff...Our personnel on duty during the disturbances acted with courage, strength and determination to protect those in our care."
Amnesty International was reported to have condemned the camp and had joined Australian opposition parties in calling for an independent investigation of the violence.
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