SCOTT Morrison has confirmed a group of 35 men ‘took down a section of fence’ during an uprising at the Manus Island detention centre yesterday. The Immigration Minister says all have since been accounted for during a roll-call this morning. “They were quickly located and the whole thing was shut down in about an hour and a quarter,” he told 2GB Radio. According to the Immigration Minister, eight asylum seekers were arrested and taken to the local police station, while 19 received medical attention in the clinic. “None of which was involving any sort of life threatening or serious conditions,” he added. Earlier, Mr Morrision said: “The Government can confirm there was a disturbance at the Manus Island centre last night. Service providers have also reported … that there has been some minor property damage to the centre.” But Manus Island MP Ronnie Knight told the ABC AM program this morning that no asylum seekers had escaped and that seven were in police custody awaiting appearance in court. He denied claims of an attempted break-out. “There was a fight late yesterday afternoon amongst themselves. They have been arrested and will face court this week,” he said. Papua New Guinean online news site PNG Edge reports one asylum seeker was taken to hospital after being seriously injured in the clash with security guards. The report, which quotes a member of the private security force detailed with guarding the asylum seekers as saying they had been “overwhelmed” by detainees. The PNG Edge report quotes the guard as saying: “We were outnumbered until police arrived on the scene.” He said “about a thousand” male asylum seekers had rushed the main gate at 5pm as a catering company van entered the complex. “I am unsure if others made it out in the melee as it was a real struggle to fend off a large number of angry foreign men with just copper sticks,” he told PNG Edge. The guard said the prisoners had been agitated and seen to be gathering in small groups after a meeting with PNG Government officials. Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul has spoken with asylum seekers at the centre and described the disturbance as “very, very serious”. “What the message that the asylum seekers got was that there was no resettlement,” Mr Rintoul told ABC Radio. Mr Morrison has rejected claims that the detainees had been told they would not be resettled in Australia or Papua New Guinea. “I am advised that suggestions reportedly made by asylum advocate groups in relation to this incident that transferees had been informed they would not be settled in Papua New Guinea are false.” He said staff were reported safe and accounted for and the centre is calm again. Also speaking on ABC radio early this morning, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said those at the detention centre are being assessed by the PNG authorities, with Australia’s help. ‘’(The) only way to avoid this kind of think is to stop the boats’’, he said. “People are being treated humanely while in the camp. But if you come to Australia illegally by boat this is I’m afraid what happens to you.” Mr Abbott said Australia was a beacon of decency, but the door was shut to boat people. ‘’It is impossible not to feel sorry for people who want a better life and are living in a horrible country and I guess its good they think Australia is a beacon,” he said. “We are a beacon of decency and generosity but we cannot allow people to take advantage of our generosity in this way. “As far as this government is concerned the way is shut, don’t get on a boat, you’ll never get to Australia.” The Greens say the unrest shows offshore processing is an expensive and serious policy failure. “The Manus Island detention centre has always been inhumane but it’s clear that, under the Abbott Government, the situation there is at boiling point,” immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said. “The Immigration Minister must be up front with the Australian people and explain how his government’s failures led to this disturbance.” Senator Hanson-Young said she will be travelling to Manus Island in the coming months to inspect the detention centre and meet with refugees. Mr Abbott told ABC radio that the PNG solution, to resettle asylum seekers in that country, can still be implemented. “That is still very much available and Prime Minister Peter O’Neil has reassured me repeatedly that the same deal that was on offer to the former Government remains on offer.” The PNG supreme court last month ruled that the constitutional viability of the deal with Australia to house asylum seekers was “open to challenge” and asked that detainees be told they are allowed to appeal against their detention. Source: news.com.au
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