video of Manu Island attack

Exclusive: Inside the Manus Island riot

Images obtained exclusively by Fairfax
Media reveal the violence unleashed by PNG guards on asylum seekers
detained on Manus Island in mid-February. Producer - Tim Young.

Papua New Guinean nationals employed as security guards on
Manus Island attacked asylum seekers at the detention centre more than
24 hours before Iranian Reza Berati died in a night of shocking
violence, new footage shows.

The footage, obtained by Fairfax Media, shows the security
guards attacking a group of asylum seekers who had absconded from the
centre after being told they had no prospect of being settled outside
PNG if their claims for refugee status were eventually recognised.

There are also images that show no action was taken to rope
off the scene of Mr Berati's killing before evidence was either
compromised or completely cleared away, including the rock that
witnesses say made sure he was dead.

"The incidents at Manus Island are the subject of an independent review and police investigation": Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
"G4S utilised personal protection gear but no batons or otherweapons were in situ": Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Supplied

The footage and images raise new questions about what was
done to reduce the risk of violence at the centre and the adequacy of
the subsequent investigation.

The morning after the violence, Immigration Minister Scott
Morrison reported that the centre would resume "normal operations" and
maintained: "G4S utilised personal protection gear but no batons or
other weapons were in situ and were in control of the centre for the
entire period."

But the footage clearly shows security guards throwing stones
and other objects at asylum seekers seeking refuge in a room after
being chased back into the centre by the guards.

"The incidents at Manus Island are the subject of an
independent review and police investigation": Immigration Minister Scott

Fairfax Media has also obtained images that show how the
fence at the compound was pushed in by PNG nationals who entered the
centre, allegedly enraged by offensive chants by asylum seekers.

They also show bullet holes within the complex at "stomach"
level, challenging the assertion that the only shots fired were warning
shots in the air; and they show damage to an asylum seeker’s door from a
machete as asylum seekers say they were hiding inside.

Interviews with security guards support the emails of an
Australian who warned colleagues that the detention centre was "totally
unprepared" for any major incident, such as the violence of February 16
and 17, when Mr Berati died and more than 60 others were injured.

A still from a video shows guards attacking detainees at the Manus Island compound.
Click for more photos

Manus Island riot

A still from a video shows guards attacking detainees at the Manus Island compound. Photo: Supplied

  • A still from a video shows guards attacking detainees at the Manus Island compound.
  • Manus Island detention centre.
  • Manus Island after the violence in which asylum seeker Reza Barati died.
  • The bottom of stairs near a recreation block.
  • A bullethole, at stomach height, in a room.
  • Damage where locals tried to force entry.
  • Door showing signs of forced entry.
  • The room the bullet was fired into.
  • A bed in the Manus Island compound.
  • Rear fence where PNG locals forced entry into the compound.
  • Triage area set up to treat the injured.

It was reported on the weekend that Paul Skillen, who worked
as a G4S security supervisor at the centre, emailed colleagues in
November expressing concerns that poorly trained workers were staffing
the centre, which was "a tinderbox ready to ignite".

The emails have been submitted to a Senate inquiry set up to investigate the violence at the centre.

Security guards who asked that they not be identified also
claimed those managing security at the centre had been urged to develop a
"dedicated investigative capacity", but had failed to act.

They also accused security contractor G4S, since replaced by
Transfield, of failing to conduct a skills audit of its staff. "They
didn’t know who they had on the ground and who could do what," one
source said.

They also claimed:

  • The training of PNG nationals employed as security guards was
    totally inadequate, with the nationals unprepared to perform many of
    the duties assigned to them, including being part of an emergency
    response team.

  • Command and control on the night of the extreme violence was
    hampered because many security guards did not have radios. "Hardly
    anyone had a radio, regardless of what they say," one said. "They
    ordered new radios in and they forgot to order spare batteries, so they
    get used for four or five hours then on charger for four or five hours.
    How can you control a riot when you’ve got no communications?"

  • Control on the night was also hampered because of a lack of torches when the power was cut to two compounds.

  • Acts of self-harm and attempted suicides were common at the
    centre. "The fortunate thing was that they are that crammed in that
    someone would raise the alert," a source said.

Security guards and local residents also criticised the
failure of those managing the centre to allow for interaction with
locals that, they say, would have built a level of trust and goodwill
and dispelled damaging rumours.

They also say the refusal to allow detainees any capacity to
humanise their environments by growing plants contributed to the
tensions. Asylum seekers were not allowed to have brooms to sweep their
quarters because of concern that they could be used as weapons, a source

The decision to cover the view of the ocean with a screen to
prevent media from taking pictures was also cited as a contributing

A spokesman for G4S said the company would not comment in detail on individual allegations.

"Suffice it to say it is not G4S’s role to investigate any
crimes that may have been committed on Manus Island; that is the role of
the PNG police, which has jurisdictional authority."

The spokesman said: "We are and will continue to fully
co-operate with all investigations and reviews by the governments of
Australia and Papua New Guinea."

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said he would await the
outcome of an independent review and the police investigation before
commenting further on the Manus incidents.