PHOTOGRAPHS showing two bloodied refugees in Papua New Guinea have emerged just days after the controversial Nauru Files leak, casting yet another spotlight on Australia’s highly-criticised immigration policies.
According to Guardian Australia, the two men – Afghan Hazaras held at the Australia-run offshore detention centre on Manus Island – were allegedly assaulted with an iron bar by a group of seven locals as they were heading to catch a bus from the beach in Lorengau city.
The two refugees were reportedly hit in the body, arms and head, and were even robbed during the incident that took place last week.
“This was at 5pm, it was broad daylight, so there were a lot of people around, and we just saw these men walking towards the police station, followed by a very large crowd.
“The men were clearly in a very bad way, there was a lot of blood. One of the men was holding up his arms as he walked, and blood was running off his arms,” a witness was quoted telling the daily.
Afghan Hazaras who have been granted refugee status after fleeing the Taliban were assaulted on Manus by PNG locals https://t.co/l2q30eGKt3
— Julian Burnside (@JulianBurnside) August 15, 2016
Human Rights Law Centre spokesman Daniel Webb said in Australia’s 9 News (via AAP) that one of the men suffered a deep gash on his forehead and later fainted at a police station.
“They were surrounded by a group of seven locals who shouted abuse at them, demanded their clothes and shoes, and beat them up,” Webb was quoted as saying.
“The attack ended when another local intervened to save them.”
Webb had personally witnessed the aftermath of the assault, which was also documented by photojournalist Matthew Abbot who was on the island for lobby group Get Up.
— DNA (@dna) August 14, 2016
The Manus Island detention centre is currently home to some 800 refugees and is among the sources of much controversy over Australia’s handling of asylum seekers.
On Thursday, The Guardian released a large cache of over 2,000 documents showing asylum seekers describing their “atrocious” living conditions, in an illustration of cruelty and routine dysfunction as a norm. In the complaints, the refugees claimed horrific accounts of torture, sexual abuse, and other human rights violations.
— GetUp! (@GetUp) August 14, 2016
According to Reuters, Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court had three months ago ruled that refugee detention in the country was illegal, leading to a legal battle with Australia. The two countries claim the the other had responsibility for resettling asylum seekers.