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Issue #1794      September 13, 2017

Refugees protest phone card cuts

Refugees transferred to Port Moresby for medical reasons last week staged “Day 1” of protest action outside the Australian Border Force office at the motel where they are being held.

They are protesting the latest move by Border Force to cut them off services and support. A notice put on the wall of the motel on September 3 announced that phone cards would no longer be available for refugees held at the motel, from September 5.

The withdrawal of phone cards from the refugees in Port Moresby follows similar recent cuts to phones and phone cards on Manus Island.

There are now well over 100 refugees and asylum seekers at the motel, supposedly transferred for medical reasons. But it has become obvious that many of the supposed medical transfers are simply a way of getting refugees off Manus Island.

Some refugees, fearful of being dumped and left homeless in Port Moresby, have refused to be transferred from Manus Island because they do not have medical issues.

Meanwhile protests continue at the Manus detention centre against the forced closure of compounds, cuts to activities and services, and the long-term detention. Today marked the 35th day of protest there.

Manus asylum seekers and refugees were told that the number of points they are given to use at the detention centre canteen has been further cut from 39 to 34 points.

“Peter Dutton is using the same tactics on Manus that he is using against the refugees who have been transferred from Manus and Nauru to Australia for medical treatment,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“On Manus, and in Port Moresby, he is cutting points, and cutting goods from the canteen, while he is pushing them out of accommodation blocks. In Australia, he has cut their income and is depriving them of housing.

“Bereft of policies, left with egg on his face because he is unable to settle anyone in PNG or the US, Dutton is reduced to spiteful stand-over tactics, pushing defenceless people around because he can. It’s pathetic. Another sign that the government is on the way out.”

Next article – Charlottesville – Trump must go

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