Asylum Seekers in Australia-Run Manus Island Attempt Suicide, Decline Food In Continuing Protests

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Asylum Seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran Cry as Indonesian Officers Force Them to Leave the Australian Vessel Hermia
IN PHOTO: Asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran cry as Indonesian officers force them to leave the Australian vessel Hermia docked at Indah Kiat port in Merak, Indonesia's Banten province in this April 9, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Aulia Pratama

Two more asylum seekers in Australia-run Manus Island detention centre have allegedly swallowed razor blades in an attempt to sway authorities to give in to demands. Two Sudanese detainees in the Foxtrot compound were taken to the center’s medical clinic after they were found by other asylum seekers with blood gushing from their mouths.

Four detainees have swallowed razor blades as part of the ongoing protests. Hundreds of men have remained on hunger strike, according to The Guardian. Men in the Foxtrot compound can be found lying under a large shelter on mats placed on concrete. Reports said guards have been looking for detainees with mobile phones who are reportedly communicating with people outside Manus Island.

Three men were arrested from the Delta compound. A detainee told the Guardian that security forces had arrived at the compound at night and took three men who were suspected of being “troublemakers.” After guards in protective gear had forcefully entered the Delta compound, Papua New Guinea authorities suggested that protests have ended in peace.

However, staff in the detention centre revealed to media that the tensions continue as protesters remain firm in their cause. Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told ABC that asylum seekers had “fashioned weapons” when the raids were conducted in the compounds earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, two detainees have reportedly tried to commit suicide by hanging. In a video footage obtained by ABC, two men appeared to be hanging themselves, but others tried to stop them. Asylum seekers who witnessed the attempted suicide said the incident happened in Mike compound.

Asylum seekers in the offshore processing centre run by Australia have refused to eat food for nine days. They are objecting to the plans of the Australian government to send about 50 refugees to another detention centre in the Manus Province’s capital in Lorengau. The governments of PNG and Australia have confirmed the transfer as only temporary. Part of the asylum-seeker programme will also see some refugees being resettled somewhere else in Papua New Guinea.

Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the government is simply moving the refugees to a different location where asylum seekers are afraid for their safety. Graeme McGregor from Amnesty International said it was “extremely challenging” to verify information from the accounts of asylum seekers since communication remains limited. 

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