Security guards accused of attacking asylum seekers

Main Stories, National

The National, Friday February 21st, 2014

AN interpreter employed by the Australian Immigration Department on Manus island has claimed that local security guards had attacked asylum seekers with machetes, knives and rocks.

According to Australian media reports, Azita Bokan said asylum seekers used plastic chairs as shields when they were attacked by locals who entered the centre on Monday.

She said she saw people who had suffered “massive head injuries’’ when locals entered the centre after detainees had pushed down a fence within the centre.

“Definitely, 100%, I stand by the statement that the local people, including some employed by G4S, were the ones who caused this drama,” Bokan said after flying out of Manus on Wednesday.

She says she did not witness the violence, but was in the area where the injured were taken and was told injuries were caused by machetes, knives, rocks and table legs.

Security company G4S issued a statement yesterday saying it was concerned about allegations that its staff may have been involved.

“Our duty of care to the transferees has always been and remains our highest priority. Our personnel on duty during the disturbances acted with courage, strength and determination to protect those in our care,’’ the statement said.

The company said its guards on Manus were not armed and that it supported the investigation into the incident and would fully co-operate.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill this week rejected suggestions that villagers on Manus were involved in the disturbances.

“I have received no reports nor has there been any indication that the people of  Manus were involved in the disturbances.”