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'Don't take them' - former Manus Island guard

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 14/11/2017


A New Zealand man who worked at the Manus Island refugee detention facility is warning the government against taking any refugees, saying the ones still at the centre are dangerous men.  

Ian, who only wants his first name used, worked as a security guard at Manus Regional Processing Centre for 18 months, and said about eight incidents of violence, threats and illegal behaviour were recorded each day.

There were numerous refugees who had integrated into the community, some who even married, and did not pose a danger. But the ones who remain at the centre and have refused to leave after Australia closed it earlier this month, are people New Zealanders should fear, he told Checkpoint with John Campbell.

“We know what these people are capable of, we know there’s footage on hard drives that they’ve got of child pornography, etcetera. They are not the calibre of people you want to come into a country and try and re-establish themselves.

“The people who have transitioned out to the community, quite possibly not a problem - but the ones that remain would be a major issue.

Asylum seekers sit on the ground as they refuse to leave the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea. © Hass Hassaballa via AP Asylum seekers sit on the ground as they refuse to leave the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea.

“They are fearing for their safety for a very good reason, they are the ones that have caused all the problems in the local community.”

The Government has reiterated its offer to take 150 refugees from Australian detention facilities, an offer previously made by the National-led government. It’s an offer Ian says is “diabolical”.

“We have more than 150 homeless people on the streets or low income families that can do with help from the government, not these people who have come across the world, dumped all forms of identification and attempted to hide their criminality.”

Ian, who lives in Australia, said the refugees were living in good, air-conditioned converted containers while the centre was open, had Wifi, a volleyball court, took classes and went on fishing excursions.

He said guards wore cameras which recorded violence, threats and verbal assault, and he was in charge of documenting it before passing it to authorities, along with a “mountain of paperwork”.

“Do we want these kinds of people in New Zealand? I most certainly do not. I’m not a racist, I’m not culturally bias. I just do not like the criminal element trying to get a back door into the country.”

He urged Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to reconsider the offer.

“My message to her would be ‘do not pursue this any further’. The calibre of people she wants to bring into the country are not what we want.

“These people are hiding their criminality behind loss of documentation, and if she continues to push the issue I would not be surprised if Malcolm Turnbull slammed the door on New Zealand.”

If the refugees were able to come to New Zealand and gain residency, then they would be able to move to Australia.

“It opens a back door into Australia and if that happens you are looking at irreparable damage done to the Special Category Visa deal between New Zealand and Australia, which would affect a lot of people.”

He expected the Australian prime minister would respond by changing legislation so Kiwis have to apply for a visa before entering and living in the country.

“Those on Special Category Visas over here like myself, who have come here to work, will find themselves in dire straight. And it cannot be good for either country.”

[audio_play] http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018621621/don-t-take-them-warning-from-a-former-manus-is-guard

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