Manus Island: Police Enter Former Australia-Run Asylum Centre
Albanian Daily News
Published November 23, 2017
Police in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have entered a former Australian-run detention centre in a bid to get asylum seekers who remain there to leave.
Hundreds of men have refused to leave the Manus Island centre since it was closed on 31 October, citing fears for their safety in the local community.
On Thursday, men inside the camp said that PNG police had given them a one-hour deadline to leave. One refugee, a journalist, was detained and released.
Australia said it was a PNG operation.
Under a controversial policy, Australia has detained asylum seekers who arrive by boat in camps on Manus Island and Nauru, a small Pacific nation.
Australia shut down the Manus Island centre after a PNG court ruled it was unconstitutional, urging asylum seekers to move to transit centres elsewhere on the island.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his nation would "not be pressured" into accepting the men, reiterating a long-held policy that such a move would encourage human trafficking.
"They should obey the law and the lawful authorities of Papua New Guinea," Mr Turnbull said.
One refugee, Abdul Aziz Adam, said about 420 asylum seekers were in the centre early on Thursday. PNG police later told Australia's ABC that about 35 men had left voluntarily.
The Sudanese refugee told the BBC a large number of police officers had entered the compound.
"They had a really big microphone in their hands and started telling people 'you have to move'. They are taking all the phones away, destroying all the rooms and belongings and everything," he said.
Another refugee, Iranian reporter Behrouz Boochani, was briefly detained. His arrest was described by Australia's journalism union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, as an "egregious attack on press freedom".
A video and a separate photo appeared to show Mr Boochani being led away by officers.