CANBERRA, Australia – Seven asylum seekers were arrested after a brawl in an immigration detention camp run by Australia on the South Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea, officials said Monday.
Local lawmaker Ron Knight said the asylum seekers began fighting among themselves on Sunday night at the camp on Manus Island. He said Papua New Guinea immigration officials had advised him that reports of a breakout were false.
The seven arrested would appear in court this week, Knight said. He did not detail the charges.
The Australian government has warned asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australia by boat that they will never reach their destination. They are intercepted at sea and sent to detention camps at Manus Island or the tiny Pacific atoll nation of Nauru.
The minor opposition Greens party said on Monday that detention conditions on Manus and Nauru were inhumane and that the government policy of keeping asylum seekers there was putting them in danger.
Refugee advocates earlier reported that asylum seekers breached the Manus centre’s perimeter fence on Sunday, and that Papua New Guinea’s police riot squad was mobilized.
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement that a number of asylum seekers was arrested after a “disturbance” on Manus.
He said asylum seekers had received medical treatment and there was minor property damage at the camp.
Knight said he was concerned about Sunday’s incident and an earlier disturbance to which police had to be called.