by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online
A refugee released from the detention centre on Manus Island is happy at his resettlement and is looking forward to contributing to PNG’s community and economy.
Reza Mollaghlipour, 38, is a civil engineer from Iran who has been granted refugee status by the PNG government.
He is now situated at another facility in Lorengau – a place he says is very different from the Manus detention centre.
“This place is very different [from] our last place and I’m really, really happy to live here and I don’t have any problems,” he told the ABC.
Mollaghlipour was interviewed as he walked freely around a market in Lorengau, observing its goods and the surrounding environment.
He spoke of his relief in being freed after an 18-month stint at the detention centre at Manus and commented at his safety despite the lack of security.
In the aftermath of the escalating, government-denied protests that began two weeks ago, Mollaghlipour moved into a new, Australian government-funded AUD$137 million centre (roughly PGK280 million) along with five other refugees.
When questioned on the protests on Manus Island, Mollaghlipour said:
“I cannot say they are right or they aren’t right but the majority of people from there don’t have any purpose, unfortunately… I hope they can really think.”
The protests, reportedly involving over 700 detainees at one point, involved requests to be turned over to the United Nations to be resettled elsewhere other than PNG, the length of their stay at the centre and their unwillingness to be settled in PNG society.
Both the PNG and Australian governments denied the severity of the protests and after a move by PNG’s foreign affairs and immigration, the matter was calmed, with 58 detainees reportedly held at a Lorengau prison and another 20 held ‘elsewhere’.
Spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul, pointed out that the people being held in Lorengau indicate a very clear violation of PNG’s Constitution.
“The people in Lorengau have been arbitrarily jailed to try and break the mass protest. It seems very clear that detaining the asylum seekers with no charge violates the PNG Constitution,” a statement from the Refugee Action Coalition Sydney read.
Section 4.2 (6), (7) of the Constitution states:
(6) A person arrested or detained for an offence (other than treason or wilful murder as defined by an Act of the Parliament) is entitled to bail at all times from arrest or detention to acquittal or conviction unless the interests of justice otherwise require.
(7) Where a person to whom Subsection (6) applies is refused bail—
(a) the court or person refusing bail shall, on request by the person concerned or his representative, state in writing the reason for the refusal; and
(b) the person or his representative may apply to the Supreme Court or the National Court in a summary manner for his release.
It has been reported that there are plans underway for the transfer of 14 detainees, described as ‘agitators’ in the protests, to Bomana prison in Port Morebsy.
At least 50 men have been granted refugee status by the PNG government, the ABC reports.