by Serah Aupong – EM TV News, Port Moresby
In responding to an official speech by Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Bruce Davis, on World Refugee Day, National Capital District Governor, Powes Parkop, said he always believed detaining refugees at the centre was wrong.
“High Commissioner, I have been one of the MPs who have been against what is happening in Manus Detention Centre. I am not afraid to say it’s wrong because these refugees, they did not want to come to PNG or to Manus Island,” Parkop said.
He continued to say that in order to facilitate this arrangement, “we have bent our rules, [broken] our laws.”
Parkop, a human rights lawyer turned politician, said he agrees with the decision of the Supreme Court which found the detention centre unconstitutional.
He said it is not only illegal but also culturally wrong in PNG to detain people.
“We are hospitable people, we welcome refugees. We want to bring them to our house. We are compassionate people, and that’s the culture that we should maintain. And the culture that is being imposed on us by the Australian government is not our culture, to put people in detention centers, to lock them up, because they are there to find a better life,” said Parkop.
He added that while Australia’s efforts in resettling refugees is commendable, they can still do a lot more in terms of processing and resettling them in Australia rather than sending them to other countries.