Reza Barati 11c - The final 48 hours: 16 February


The final 48 hours: 16 February

Protests started in the Manus Prison on 26 January, officially celebrated as Australia Day, but known as Invasion Day to Indigenous peoples and their supporters. The protests, calling for freedom for the refugees on this national day in Australia, were initially confined to Oscar compound, and were peaceful though they lacked coordination. Following this initial protest, the protests spread to other compounds within the camp, became increasingly organised and occurred on a daily basis. Over the following weeks G4S requested additional guards to contain them.

On the afternoon of 16 February, Australian and PNG immigration officials held a meeting with representatives of different communities of asylum seekers in the camp to provided responses to 11 questions submitted to them by asylum seekers on 5 February [Cornall Review p.36-39]. The inadequate official responses to the men’s questions  exacerbated existing frustrations and escalated tensions.


According to the Review, ‘The central message of the meeting was that the processing of refugee claims was likely to take a long time, possibly up to four years, and that the other option available to the asylum seekers was to return to their home country or to another country where they held residency rights.

‘In the meeting, no new information was given to the asylum seekers and their questions were not answered. They were told that they would never be settled in Australia and that if they wished to settle in a third country, they would receive no support from Australia or PNG to do this. They were not told when they would be processed, released or resettled in PNG.’

Amnesty International (Senate Committee Report)

Following this meeting, on the night of 16 February, up to 30 people from inside Oscar compound went outside the perimeter fence to protest but they were quickly apprehended by local people and G4S staff. One man had his throat slit and others were beaten.


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