One Dead At Manus After PNG Police Open Fire


At least one person is dead and dozens injured after PNG police opened fire at the Manus Island detention centre last night, a local source has told New Matilda.

G4S had to pull out of the compound and local police “went in shooting” the source said, describing the situation at the Australian-run centre this morning as “very bad”.

This contradicts the account of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, who told media this morning that local police did not enter the centre and only dealt with asylum seekers who had escaped.

“I am advised that G4S were able to protect critical infrastructure and take control of the facility within the centre without the use of batons,” Morrison said in a statement. He later confirmed there had been one death.

Before the violence erupted last night, a detainee at the centre told New Matilda that he was “very scared” after being threatened by Manus Island locals.

“Local people came now to the compound, they have weapons, they want to make fight with us, threaten they will come at the nighttime,” he said.

He said many of his fellow detainees had been injured on Sunday, when protests erupted at the centre after a meeting with Australian immigration officials failed to provide detainees with answers on where and when they would be resettled.

“[On Sunday] night there are many injured people, more than 50,” he said. “Two of them they have really big injury at the neck and they in a very bad situation.”

“Local and police PNG and G4S [employees from]PNG were the ones that were doing the hurting. The [injuries]last night was the same as a war [injury].”

The detainee said that many Australian G4S employees had also been injured on Sunday night.

“The Australian G4S tell us if there’s locals come to fight to with us, we are able to save ourselves, but without escaping out of the compound,” he said. “G4S Australia are good people but they are also very scared in this situation.”

NM’s local source confirmed before last night’s violence that PNG locals were “ready for a fight” and had come to the centre with weapons once before.

“They came with weapons about two weeks ago. The detainees’ protest and the chanting made them angry so they stood outside with weapons one night. They’ve been holding on to this for a while I think.”

“They are threatening to come inside and just beat the crap out of everybody – and [the detainees]are really scared of that,” the source said. 

“The locals are really against the centre, they don’t understand what it is, they just see millions and millions of dollars being spent feeding and housing these people, and bringing all these people in to work just to house them. They just see all this money coming in,” they said.

Detainees beaten by riot police

During riots on Sunday night New Matilda’s source said PNG riot police were “very brutal” after management at the centre “opened the gates” to let them in.

“They were very brutal, and random — just randomly beating the crap out of them. There was just random chaotic violence,” the source said. “There were 50 people injured, some people were really badly injured too.”

New Matilda understands that tension has been building between PNG locals, police and detainees for some time.

The problems are concentrated in two compounds. Detainees at Oscar compound have been “quite vocal and quite noisy” in recent weeks, and admitted that they tore down a fence on Sunday night, the source told NM. “That’s where the main problem was with the riot police on Sunday night. The riot police, they stalked the Oscar compound, they were just beating them up, so a lot of them had really bad injuries.”

Meanwhile sources say that at Mike compound, which has a perimeter fence where villagers are able to see in, there have been threats from locals. “Over in Mike compound, which faces the locals, that’s where they’re more exposed and there’s local vigilantes trying to get inside and hurt them. There’s a lot of tension now between these two groups.”

“On the one hand, Oscar compound are aggravated and they want to break out. But over on Mike compound it’s the other way around — I’m sure they’re still yelling and screaming — but it’s the locals who are trying to get in and hurt them,” the source said.

Detainees in Mike compound were “really scared” before Monday night’s violence. “Some of the local villagers who are kind of thugs almost, they have no problems whacking into someone and doing them serious damage,” the source said.

Other staff at the centre said yesterday that they thought the situation would “get really ugly” and they “wouldn't be surprised if someone was killed tonight”.

New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.