Malcolm Turnbull 'won't be pressured' on Manus Island

Walid Zazai/ Twitter

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he “won’t be pressured” by the Manus Island standoff, which has reached its 24th day.

On Thursday, police stormed the camp, three weeks after the centre was closed by the government, in a bid to move on around 400 men who remained at onsite, despite the power and water being cut off.

Some men were escorted from the site on buses but most of the refugees and asylum seekers remain at the decommissioned facility, refusing to leave.

Turnbull said the men refusing to leave were perhaps trying to pressure the government into letting them live in Australia, but their tactics won’t prevail

“I will just say that the people at the Manus Regional Processing Centre, which has been closed by the PNG authorities should leave and go to the alternative accommodation that has been provided,” he said.

“They’re staying there is obviously designed – they think this is some way they can pressure the Australian Government to let them come to Australia.

“Well, we will not be pressured.

“I want to be very clear about this – our border security, the integrity of our borders, is maintained by my government. It is maintained by my government and we will not outsource our migration policy to people smugglers.”

Iranian-Kurdish refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani is among several refugees reported escorted to the new location.

Some men said they were beaten and forced onto buses by police and immigration.

The Australian government says how refugees and asylum seekers are dealt with on Manus is an issue for PNG.

“The PNG authorities are acting in accordance with the directions of their government in accordance with their law,” said Turnbull.

“The people on Manus should go to the alternative places of safety with all of the facilities they need.

“They should do so peacefully and they should do so in accordance with the lawful directions of Papua New Guinea”.

The Manus Island regional processing centre was closed by the Papua New Guinea government last month after a 2016 ruling by the PNG Supreme Court that the facility was illegal and in breach of the constitution.

New Zealand has offered to take some of the refugees from Manus, but the Australian government refused the offer arguing it would encourage people smugglers.

The US has accepted 54 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru following a deal with the Obama administration to resettle them there. Another 500 are still awaiting assessment.

*Additional reporting by Simon Thomsen.

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