Stokes: Govt taking this very seriously

Main Stories, National

The National, Thursday February 20th, 2014


THE Australian government is treating the violence at the Manus refugee processing centre seriously, High Commissioner Deborah Stokes says.

Fights among the asylum seekers and later involving police and 

security guards on Sunday and Monday nights resulted in the death of one and injuries to dozens of others.

 “The Australian government is taking the matter seriously,” Stokes said.

“It is a tragedy, not obviously good news.”

Stokes said Australia wanted a proper investigation into the violence. Her deputy and other officials from the High Commission were in Manus yesterday.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has rejected suggestions that villagers on Manus were involved in the disturbances.

“I have received no reports and there is no indication of the people of Manus being involved in this incident,” he told Parliament.

“The media is trying to portray that there is a lawless situation on Manus. 

“That is not the case. 

“At no time did the good people of Manus get involved.”

“Police were called into the centre only at the request of the management of the processing centre because their security guards were unable to control the situation.

“There were gunshots fired to calm things down, not to harm to any particular person.”

Meanwhile, visiting Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan talked to the police and foreign affairs ministers including the Attorney General, on the incident which he described “very regrettable.”

“I am confident that PNG authorities will look into that,” Keenan said.