The National, Monday February 24th, 2014
MANUS Governor Charlie Benjamin has denied reports by the Australian media that locals were involved in the violent unrest that took place on the island last week.
“I want to make it clear here that the people of Manus are educated and are not stupid to go into such places and start up fights,” he said in parliament last Friday.
“The asylum seekers are housed inside the Defence Force camps where ordinary Manus people cannot just enter. How do you expect the people to just go in and start fighting?
“It was also supposed to happen in the night, how do you expect the people from the villages to get up and go into the camp and start fighting?”
Benjamin told parliament that the media reports did not make sense and were not true, adding that investigations would reveal the root cause of the unrest.
He said it was common knowledge that from day one the asylum seekers were not happy with the lengthy process of their refugee status.
“They did not want to come to PNG. They wanted to go to Australia so that’s their concern and we must not beat around the bush. We must also know that some of those transferees were based in Nauru and took part in the burning down of the camp over there.
“Their ways of protesting is different to the way we protest, it’s much more violent. But we should know that they also broke the fence and tried to escape and if our security personnel hadn’t intervened, the situation would’ve gotten out of hand, so I believe credit must be given where it’s due.”
Benjamin said the people of Manus and the security personnel who helped to ensure the situation did not get out of hand should be credited and that was what the Australians should be told.
“We are helping them, we’re doing it for them and they shouldn’t come and tell us that we are not doing a good job because we did the very job that they could’ve done and that I think the Australians should appreciate that.”
He said that the Manus provincial government was not happy with the assistance given in terms of funding but that was an issue between the PNG and Australian governments.”
Benjamin said the A$420 million (K913 million) package was only for the building of the camp and PNG Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato failed in his part to get assistance to go to Manus.
“Sometimes the Australians must appreciate what we are doing and they shouldn’t be blaming us on what is happening, we did our best, we saved that camp and now the situation is under control.”