Australian Treatment of Iranian Refugees Deplored

Australian Treatment of Iranian Refugees Deplored Australian Treatment of Iranian Refugees Deplored

An Iranian parliamentarian denounced the reported assault on two Iranian refugees on Manus Island by police and immigration officials on New Year's Eve and called for a firm response by the government.

"Our diplomatic apparatus is expected to spare no effort to protect our citizens' rights and respond to Australia's violent treatment of Iranian citizens in a resolute manner," Mohsen Kouhkan told ICANA on Monday.

The victims, whose first names are Mehdi and Mohammad, were released from police detention on Monday more than 36 hours after the incident in Lorengau township, the Guardian reported.

The Refugee Action Coalition said the two men were joining a party when they were confronted by immigration officials who told them they had no right to be outside the controversial detention center, before assaulting them with police officers.

"The Foreign Ministry should take serious action on the Manus Island issue, which is an old wound and report to the people," Kouhkan said.  

Australian officials exercise overall authority and control over the detention center on Manus Island, which is part of Manus Province in northern Papua New Guinea.

The assault of the two men has again drawn attention to the nature of their detention on the island and their future after more than three years in detention.

Gholamali Jafarzadeh, another Iranian lawmaker, stressed the need to express Iran's protest by summoning the Australian ambassador to the Foreign Ministry, among other measures.

Refugee Action Coalition Spokesman Ian Rintoul described the charges against the men as "manufactured" and said the Australian government was a "party to the brutality" of the offshore detention regime.

"It's time the [Australian] government stopped playing politics with the lives of innocent people, and brought all the asylum seekers and refugees to Australia," he said. In April last year, the PNG Supreme Court ruled that the detention of asylum seekers and refugees in the Manus Island center was "illegal and unconstitutional". Both the Australian and PNG governments agreed to close it, but even after more than eight months, it remains open.

The Australian and PNG governments insist the men on Manus are no longer in detention and free to move around, but not leave, the island.

But those on the island say the changes to the detention regime have been superficial: The detention center remains ringed by three-meter steel fences and the men cannot move freely within it; they cannot walk outside the center because it is housed within a military base, and can only leave on pre-arranged, scheduled buses; they are security screened on entry and exit; and their communications are monitored.

Australia announced in November it had reached an agreement with the United States to resettle refugees from its offshore detention network—Manus Island and Nauru—in the US, but there remain few details about the nature of the agreement, the number of people to be resettled and when that might happen.

A change of administration in the US on January 20 might also change, or end, that agreement.


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