The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Hon. Rimbink Pato, LLB, OBE, MP has welcomed the conclusion to the protest that had been underway at the Manus Regional Processing Centre (MRPC).
Papua New Guinea’s Chief Migration Officer (CMO), Mataio Rabura, had earlier been directed by the Prime Minister to assume leadership of the facility from contractors, and to execute his authority as designated Administrator of the MRPC to implement a plan to resolve the standoff.
“After taking control of the situation, CMO Mataio Rabura, approved the entry of security personnel to enter the compound and assist any person who did not want to be there,” Foreign Minister Pato said.
“Civilian security personnel entered MRPC to assist Transferees who wanted to leave. Backup was available from the Incident Response Team, but for the most part was not required. A few agitators sought to prevent the removal of ill people but were restrained by security personnel.
“The protest then came to a conclusion and all transferees departed the compound in a safe manner. “Police were also in reserve in case the situation escalated but were not required to intervene.
“Some Transferees have been treated for dehydration and fatigue.” Foreign Minister Pato said the Government of Papua New Guinea had become increasingly concerned that protest in one compound had escalated and asylum seekers who did not wish to participate in the protest were being prevented from leaving.
“These people were effectively being held hostage. We were particularly concerned about people being prevented from accessing medical care, especially those suffering from diabetes, which requires daily medication.
“Papua New Guinea is a democracy and we respect the right of asylum seekers to protest peacefully but this cannot be at the expense of the safety of others. “We could not permit agitators to act in a way that endangers other asylum seekers or staff.”
The Minister praised the professionalism, restraint and discipline of security personnel who brought the situation under control swiftly.
“It was only a minority of agitators who were responsible for the escalation of the protest,” Minister Pato said. “Most genuine asylum seekers are peaceable people who simply want their refugee claims processed as quickly as possible so that they can start rebuilding their lives in Papua New Guinea.
“They have fled situations of conflict and do not want any part of the aggressive behavior that the agitators have demonstrated. “We will do all we can to help genuine refugees.”