Manus Island: Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison Under Fire, Blames Labour's Past Policies

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By Reissa Su | February 24, 2014 9:46 PM EST

Following the death of an Iranian asylum seeker Reza Kevati in the Australia-run detention centre in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, an investigation has been launched to determine the truth about the violent riots.

(REUTERS/Sri Lankan President'
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L), who is currently in Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013, gives Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa a signed Australian Rugby Union jersey in Colombo, November 17, 2013. (REUTERS/Sri Lankan President's Office/Handout via Reuters)

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is in the hot seat and pressured to resign his post after his admission that most of the riots in Manus Island happened inside the asylum seeker detention facility and not outside as previously claimed.

Mr Morrison stood his ground as he defended his report and said it was later "qualified" by conflicting accounts of the unfortunate events at the centre. He also told parliament that the Immigration Department will investigate all the issues relevant to the Manus Island riots which include events during the leadership of the Labour party.

Mr Morrison mentioned Labour's reopening of the detention centre in 2012 under the Howard government "Pacific Solution" initiative. He criticised former Immigration Minister Tony Burke for the way he handled the riots in Nauru's detention centre.

Mr Morrison attacked Mr Burke about taking a whole week to announce the results of the review in Nauru's processing centre for asylum seekers.  He described the Nauru riots as a "meltdown" on Mr Burke's watch.

Amnesty International said the death of the asylum seeker was a result of the illegal policy of offshore processing of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Both countries should ensure that private contractors and government officials will be cautious in dealing with asylum seekers. The use of force must only be observed as last resort.

The group said more than 1,200 people have been detained indefinitely in Manus Island under alleged harsh conditions with no word about their future.

In a report by ABC, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australian officials in Manus Island have "acted swiftly" to secure the facility and ensure people were given food and sufficient care. The prime minister said the government will not back down on the issue of people smuggling. He reiterated Australia will not "succumb to pressure or moral blackmail."

The Australia Greens criticised the Coalition government and Mr Abbott for turning back a boatload of asylum seekers with young children reportedly onboard.  Asylum seekers were sent back to Indonesian waters in an Australian lifeboat.

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(Photo: (REUTERS/Sri Lankan President' / )
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L), who is currently in Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013, gives Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa a signed Australian Rugby Union jersey in Colombo, November 17, 2013. (REUTERS/Sri Lankan President's Office/Handout via Reuters)
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