More than 100 PNG police officers have stormed the Manus Island camp and are reportedly intimidating refugees, demanding the men move, and breaking their possessions and water catchment systems.
Reports from within the centre, provided to PEDESTRIAN.TV via GetUp!, indicate that refugees are being beaten and pushed to the ground by officers.
Any refugee caught recording the incident on a camera phone is having their phone taken away.
A 1-second clip of footage shows armed officers demanding a refugee stop filming.
Pictures show police officers inside the camp, with several indicating that refugees have climbed onto the roof.
“They are destroying everything,” wrote journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani on Twitter. “Shelters, tanks, beds and all of our belongings. They are being very aggressive and put our belongings in the rubbish bins.”
He says the refugees are scared but remain silent and are sitting peacefully. Some refugees are crying.
“Police and immigration are very aggressive and some of them are using bad words but on our side the refugees are peaceful and completely silent. The tension is really on high alert.
“The police, special forces, police squad are now in their hundreds, spreading through the prison camp and around the prison. Navy soldiers are outside the prison camp. We are on high alert right now. We are under attack.”
“They are taking the phones and are very aggressive and are taking out some refugees who still remain in the rooms. Something terrible is happening right now, they are taking the refugees out of the rooms.”
The police, special forces, police squad are now in their hundreds, spreading through the prison camp and around the prison. Navy soldiers are outside the prison camp. We are on high alert right now. We are under attack.— Behrouz Boochani (@BehrouzBoochani) November 22, 2017
The Australian Federal Police have confirmed that two of its officers are on the island acting in a liaison role.
Abdul Aziz Adam, another refugee on Manus Island, says that two refugees have been beaten up, but that there are no injuries so far.
Two refugees has been beaten up by police and Navy but so far no one has been injured pray for us ???????????????????? pic.twitter.com/m7OlAPNjn5— Abdul Aziz Adam (@Aziz58825713) November 22, 2017
There are some reports that one to two refugees have been arrested, which P.TV is trying to confirm. [UPDATE: Abdul reports that three refugees have been arrested by the police and taken away, but “we don’t know where.” GetUp! was unable to confirm, but assures P.TV that Abdul is a reliable source.]
The United Nations recently criticised the Manus Island detention centre, urging Australia to take responsibility for the refugees there.
“The situation on the ground is very serious and deteriorating day by day,” said Nai Jit Lam, a regional representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The PNG government shut down the centre at the end of October, but 423 men have remained in the camp, fearing that they would be unsafe at the new facility.
The Australian government claims the new facilities are ready, but drone footage obtained by SBS shows a largely barren site with construction ongoing.
SBS also reported that refugees at the new site had posted videos showing there’s no running water or power at the new site, a claim backed up by the UNHCR after an inspection.
Manus Province Police Commander David Yapu disputed the lack of water and electricity to SBS News, but confirmed that security fencing is not complete.
He also said that police would not use force to remove the refugees, as that would be a human rights breach.
UPDATE: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed the police operation, and grumbled to radio station 2GB about the refugees not moving to the new centre.
“The Australian taxpayers have paid about $10 million for a new facility and we want people to move,” he said. “Obviously, it is in the end an issue for PNG police and the authorities up there but there is an operation involving police at the centre this morning.