Weekly media wrap - 19 January

A week of protest and hunger strikes on Manus Island culminated in the storming of two compounds of the detention centre by Wilson guards.

On Tuesday 13 January, 100 asylum seekers went on hunger strike, protesting resettlement in Papua New Guinea (PNG) enabled by a bilateral with Australia.

By Wednesday 14 January, 500 asylum seekers were on hunger strike. On the same day, running water became unavailable  at the centre. 

On Friday 16 January the entire centre was placed in lockdown, preventing staff from entering the compounds. Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton stated it was his ‘absolute resolve’ to prevent asylum seekers arriving in Australia and accused advocates of coaching self-harm, a claim that was strongly denied. 

By Saturday 17 January, more than 100 asylum seekers were under medical care, most from dehydration. PNG’s immigration minister Rimbink Pato reported asylum seekers sewing their lips and swallowing razor blades and washing powder.

On Sunday 18 January, four asylum seekers were placed in solitary confinement as asylum seekers barricaded themselves inside Delta compound. Amid conflicting claims over conditions at the detention centre, opposition leader Bill Shorten called for transparency from the government. Mr Dutton said asylum seekers had engaged in ‘aggressive’ and ‘irresponsible behaviour’.

Meanwhile, Australian and Cambodian officials visited Nauru, to discuss the deal to resettle refugees in Cambodia.

In Australia, advocates for 15 Iranian asylum seekers detained indefinitely in Darwin wrote to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants requesting an investigation into their detention.