Sir Michael saddened by Manus issue

Former prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has labelled the treatment of refugees on Manus Island by both the PNG and Australian governments as a lack of human dignity and respect.

The Grand Chief said it is with sadness that he watched two countries play football with the lives of refugees on Manus Island.

The founding father of the nation has come out in statement to say that acts of violence have been perpetrated with impunity and worse still, lives have been lost.

Grand Chief Somare said he had raised this issue of inhumane treatment while in parliament and was accused of being party to the Australia/PNG plan to set up the Manus Regional Processing Centre.

He further clarified that when he took office in 2002, there was already an arrangement in place on Manus Island for boat people who had fled their homeland destined for Australia.

He honoured the arrangement of the previous government but once the processing was completed, the then Somare government put a stop to this so-called Pacific Solution.

In his retirement, the Grand Chief says he is at liberty today to speak about the miserable manner in which Australia is trying to offload the Manus Island Refugees.

“PNG courts found Australia’s Pacific Solution to be unconstitutional,” says Sir Michael.

“Australia is party to the United Nations’ Convention on Refugees and opted for a ‘solution’ that has been unsatisfactory to Manus people, PNG and the refugees of Manus Detention Centre.”

Sir Michael stated that Australia is a large enough developed economy that should be addressing their problems on their own shores. He says Australia must provide support for refugees to integrate, and certainly has a large enough diplomatic presence in Port Moresby to provide adequate assistance.

(Loop file pic)

Sophie Yaruso