Manus Island Inquiry: Asylum Seekers Given Worm-Infested Bread in Prison-Like Conditions
By Reissa Su | March 19, 2014 7:03 PM EST
An asylum seeker revealed that the bread in the Manus Island detention centre is "full of worms." A court in Papua Guinea heard detailed accounts of asylum seekers eating worm-infested bread and enduring living in a "prison-like" environment. The asylum seeker detention facility in Manus Island is run by the Australian government.
The 25-year-old asylum seeker from Iraq told the PNG court that he was compelled to pull apart the bread provided in the facility to get rid of worms. Speaking through a translator, the asylum seeker said they found worms in the cereal and bread. However, the Manus Island authorities still continued to hand out the bread.
The asylum seeker was the first witness to testify before the Justice David Cannings inquiry. It was previously alleged that Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison had told asylum seekers to "not even dream about coming to Australia."
The first witness recounted what Mr Morrison had said and described the minister as being "a bit angry." He told the court that the asylum seekers detained in Manus Island seldom had soap for use in toilets and most of the time, they had no water in the bathrooms.
The Iraqi asylum seeker said that sitting in court made him feel more human since he felt he didn't have rights in the Manus Island facility.
In late February, protesters in Australia have called on the government to close the asylum seeker detention centre in Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, after it was revealed in a report that a former Sri Lankan military officer is running the facility.
The Australian government has confirmed that Dinesh Perera from Sri Lanka served as the operations manager for the asylum seeker facility which was set up on Manus Island in 2013. The detention centre is located in a rugged jungle-covered island off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. Asylum seekers who attempt to enter Australia by boat are sent to the Manus Island facility.
The asylum seekers mostly come from Asian countries, including Iraq, Iran, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. The detainees have been rescued from unstable boats after paying people traffickers money to cross the Tasman.
Human Rights Law Centre advocate Emily Howie said the Manus Island facility has been described as "cruel" and "inhumane" by the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees. Ms Howie is an expert on issues regarding international refugees. She has studied the human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and remarked that even if Mr Perrera had passed government scrutiny, there is no guarantee and "no peace of mind."
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