A 28 YEAR-old Iranian asylum seeker in the Manus Island detention centre attempted to set himself alight last Friday night.
The man, who was one of those seriously wounded in the 2014 attack by locals and police on Mike Compound, sprayed himself with flammable liquid before using a lighter to try and set himself alight.
Fortunately, other asylum seekers at the scene quickly intervened preventing the fluid catching fire, and he was uninjured.
The incident is one of the growing numbers of self-harm incidents on Manus Island as the six month political crisis surrounding the centre drags on. The PNG Supreme Court’s order in April to close the centre has been ignored.
Meanwhile, a ‘Communication Guide’ just issued to Manus prisoners by PNG Immigration says the closure of the centre “will not be rushed.”
The asylum seeker is one of the group of around 30 who have consistently refused to co-operate with the refugee determination process. Despite the fact that this group of asylum seekers have never been interviewed, some of the group were recently been given a negative assessment.
Australian Border Force has also cut the weekly allowance of 25 points that can be used in the detention canteen to buy phone credit in an attempt to force the group to attend an interview.
Tensions have been rising in the Manus centre since PNG and Australian immigration moved to tighten rules despite the PNG Supreme Court ruling that the centre be closed.
Immigration and the management company Broadspectrum are again causing social upheaval, this time to force all double negative asylum seekers into Mike compound. They have set a deadline of today for the move. People with a positive assessment are expected to move from Mike to Foxtrot compound.
PNG immigration has warned that PNG police may be used to force the transfer. PNG police were involved in the 2014 attack on Mike compound that resulted in the death of Reza Barati.
The restrictions are further steps to coerce asylum seekers to return to their home countries. But the restrictions make a mockery of Australian and PNG Immigration claims that the centre is “open”.
Both Australia and PNG governments are panicking to try and pre-empt the PNG Supreme Court hearing on 27 October where an application for “summary judgment” will seek orders for the immediate closure of Manus and the return to Australia of all those refugees and asylum seekers who wish to do so.
Rather than face its legal responsibilities, the Australian government is determined to try to keep the Manus detention open and maintain the fiction that resettlement is possible in PNG.
The Australian government is trying to save face and is doing everything it can to maintain offshore detention policies and bully the PNG government to prevent families being united, and prevent refugees finding a secure future.
The Turnbull government should stop the delaying tactics, stop obstructing the courts and bring all the refugees and asylum seekers to Australia.