The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Hon Rimbink Pato MP, has provided an update relating to the current protest by Transferees at the Manus Regional Processing Centre.
“In recent days there have been protest activities within some compounds in the processing centre,” Minister Pato said.
“While this tension is unfortunate, the situation is being managed by Australian and Papua New Guinea Government Officials, and service providers.”
The Minister made the point that the Transferees instigating the protest are relatively few in number, and are being coerced and encouraged by activists in Australia who are distributing misleading information.
“Despite claims by agitator groups in Australia, at no time have police been called upon to enter the facility.
“Further to this, there has been no attempt by security personnel to bring about an end to the protest through physical confrontation. As part of the centre management’s duty of care, security officers did accompany workers into the compound last week to enable staff to carry out their jobs relating to cleaning and the provision of food.
“The current situation is that Transferees in one area have blocked the gate to their compound and are refusing to receive food, as well as preventing cleaners and other workers from entering the compound.
“We hope that the operators of the facility are able to bring about an end to this protest through dialogue.”
The Minister advised that some Transferees have committed acts of self-harm. This includes sewing parts of their lips together, while others have swallowed objects including metal filaments taken from disposable shavers and there have instances of protestors consuming washing powder.
“Each case of self-harm is being investigated by medical personnel and appropriate action is being offered to the individuals concerned,” the minister said.
Medical examinations have been undertaken of individuals who claimed to have swallowed non-food items and treatment is being provided to ensure their safety. The Transferees have access to a high quality medical facility that is fully equipped to deal with and manage these matters.
Minister Pato said the small number of protest instigators are not representative of the asylum seekers being considered for resettlement in Papua New Guinea.