Three immigration officers who allegedly beat up a refugee saying “This is our country” have been arrested in Papua New Guinea.Mohsen Sakhravi was having dinner in a Manus Island restaurant on 1 June when the officials entered and told him he had to get back to his transit accommodation, a refugee acting as an interpreter has told Guardian Australia.“They [Mohsen and friends] were enjoying their time in the restaurant when immigration people came and said, ‘You are here at 10pm and you should be at accommodation,’ ” he said.“They hit him. They pick Mohsen up in the car and bring back to accommodation. Mohsen talk to police and is talking to PNG lawyer. They hit him in the head.”
The officials allegedly told Sakhravi “this is our country” and threatened to kill him before making him run ahead of their car. After a while they allegedly beat him again then drove him to the accommodation where his pleas to be taken to hospital were refused.
Sakhravi was bleeding when he arrived back at the accommodation and suffered bruising and swelling over the next week.
Three officials have been charged with assault, Sakhravi’s lawyer, Ben Lomai, told the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier.
Sakhravi is staying at the East Lorengau transit centre – which was bankrolled by the Australian government – in the capital of Manus Island while he awaits resettlement in the PNG community after being processed as a refugee.
Although the transit centre is not a detention centre there are restrictions on the movements of refugees there with a curfew of dusk, which is about 6pm.
Some refugees in the Manus detention centre have feared for their safety at the prospect of moving to the transit centre and some have refused to go.
The standoff with the PNG government resulted in threats they would have access to some services restricted – such as the medical centre and the internet – if they did not move to the centre.