Contributed from Victoria
More than 600 refugees continue to barricade themselves at the detention centre on Manus Island and the Australian government continues to try and force them out by cutting off power, water and food supplies.
The issue is that the refugees believe that the Australian government is trying to force them into a more dangerous situation, on an island, where they have already been victims of violence and the hands of some local elements.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, has offered to resettle 150 of them, but this has been soundly rejected by Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, although even some members of his own party have been encouraging him to accept the offer.
“We are not taking it up at this time,” he said, during talks in Sydney with the leader of our neighbour nation. His preference is to pursue a deal for resettlement with the leader of the United States Donald Trump.
This is a clear signal that the policies and methods being used are not about to be changed.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville, has stepped in and said that there is grave concern over what is occurring on the island.
“We have serious concerns about the welfare, safety and wellbeing of the roughly 600 men who remain in the accommodation compound, who are too frightened to leave,” he said.
“We call on the Australian Government, as the party who interned the men in the first place, to immediately provide protection, food, water and other basic services.
“The men have said they fear they will be subjected to violence at the hands of locals if they leave the compound — and, given there have been violent incidents in the past, we believe these fears should be respected and satisfactorily addressed.”
Both the Australia and Papua New Guinea are responsible under international human rights law and the 1951 Refugee Convention, to protect the men from harm and ensure they had access to shelter, water, food and sanitation. This requirement is being violated.
Colville suggests that Australia’s detention centres are “are unsustainable, inhumane and contrary to its human rights obligations”.
Australian actor Russell Crowe, has tweeted his support for humane treatment by the Australian government.
It just goes to show, the voices fighting to put an end of this nightmare are getting louder.