Asylum-seekers in the Manus Island detention camp have stepped up their protest demanding that they be allowed entry into Australia. Dozens of detainees at the camp off Papua New Guinea (PNG) rallied raising slogans and holding placards. Those detained in Nauru centre too have been staging a similar protest every day for the past two months. Both the centres are run by the Australian government.
Refugees or asylum-seekers who try to enter Australia via sea are sent to its offshore processing centre in Nauru and PNG's Manus Island. In April, the PNG Supreme Court declared the detention camp unconstitutional. There are about 900 refugees in the centre in the $600m (£304m) Australian tax payer-funded immigration detention facility.
The protesters marched in pouring rain carrying banners, one of which read: "Shut down Manus hell. Let hostages in," according to the Guardian.
"Where is sanctity of law? Stop playing games. Every death in PNG and Nauru is blood on your hands," read another.
Behrouz Bouchani, a Kurdish journalist who fled Iran to seek asylum in Australia, is one among the detainees on Manus Island. He said: "All prisons are shouting to Australia that this place is illegal. We are saying Australia exiled us to this hell by force, has kept us in this prison by force, by threatening us and with much humiliation."
State media has reported that tensions flared up over clashes between locals and refugees as a 24-year-old asylum seeker, who has settled in PNG, was hit by the father of a local who he had been seeing. According to News Corp Australia, Riaz Samadi was called a "rebel" and a "womaniser" and threatened by the locals.
Ever since PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill announced the camp would be shut down, the security around the detention centre has been relaxed with its refugees given permission to travel into the main town of Lorengau, where they can freely roam, with a 6pm curfew.
Negotiations between Australia and the PNG government seem to have reached a deadlock and neither of them has arrived at a decision to take responsibility for the refugees. Australia has often hinted that it would not accommodate any refugees in its country.
The spokesperson for a refugee group, Ian Rintoul, said the Australian government was stalling the process because of the July federal elections.