Two Iranian refugees on Manus Island were reportedly bashed by a group of Papua New Guinea police and immigration officials on New Year’s Eve.
The Refugee Action Coalition says the two men, whose first names are Mehdi and Mohammad, were joining in new year’s celebrations when they were confronted by Papua New Guinea Immigration officials who told them they had no right to be outside the detention centre, and, along with police officers, assaulted them.
The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection said on Sunday night it was aware of an incident on Manus Island on Saturday involving two Iranian refugees but as a law and order matter, “the issue is primarily one for the PNG police force”.
However, the Refugee Action Coalition says the Australian government is a “party to the brutality”.
“It’s time the government stopped playing politics with the lives of innocent people, and brought all the asylum seekers and refugees to Australia,” the organisation’s spokesman Ian Rintoul said.
Mr Rintoul told AAP the men were allowed to be outside the detention center and were not doing anything wrong.
Photos sent to the Refugee Action Coalition show severe injuries to the mens’ head, face, neck and back.
Mr Rintoul said the men were in custody without charge and had not received medical attention or pain relief.
The Refugee Action Coalition obtained details of the incident through a phone call with a friend of the men who is also a refugee.
The alleged police attack follows the death of a Sudanese asylum seeker, who collapsed in the Manus Island detention centre, shortly before Christmas.
The UN and human rights groups have repeatedly criticized the existence of these detention centres and labelled the precarious living conditions as “inhumane”.
Many of the migrants detained in Nauru and Papua New Guinea have fled conflicts in countries such as Afghanistan, Darfur, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria.
While others have escaped discrimination or the status of being stateless persons, such as the Rohingya minorities in Myanmar and Bedoon from the Persian Gulf region.
They were detained before arriving on Australia’s coasts and sent to the offshore detention centres where their refugee applications were processed.