ASRC slams Manus Island investigation as “disgrace”

Asylum seeker Reza Berati was murdered at 23 in the Manus Island riots in February

Asylum seeker Reza Berati was murdered at 23 in the Manus Island riots in February

Sara Morrison, Student reporter

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The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) says the investigation into the Manus Island detention centre riots that resulted in the death of 23-year-old asylum seeker Reza Berati is “an appalling disgrace”, despite Immigration Minister Scott Morrison telling Sky News he is happy with the outcome.

Kon Karapanagiotidis, founder and CEO of the ASRC, says so much time has passed yet nothing has been done and “no one has been held to justice”.

“It’s 49 or 50 days since Reza Berati was murdered,” he says.

“In a nutshell there was no investigation. All we had was an absolute cover up.

“People implicated in his murder and the attacks of over 150 refugees continue to work on Manus with impunity, it’s an appalling disgrace.”

He says it’s not surprising that the Australian government hasn’t pursued the case with much depth, as it is not in their best interests.

“The difficulty for the Australia government is one where it’s complicit in what’s happened, it’s responsible for what’s happened along with the PNG (Papua New Guinea) authorities,” says Mr Karapanagiotidis.

“Now to actually hold that government accountable for what’s happened would require risking its ability to continue to run its illegal detention centre. In other words the PNG government is under no circumstances ever going to be held accountable for what has happened, because what do you think the PNG government’s going to say next? ‘Piss off, leave Manus right now’.”

But Scott Morrison defended the government’s efforts in a recent interview with Sky News, saying the Australian authorities have provided all possible assistance to Papua New Guinean police during an investigation into the incident. He also told Sky News charges should soon be laid over the Manus Island riots and the consequential death of Mr Berati.

Mr Karapanagiotidis argues that the government didn’t do nearly enough to control the situation and doubts the charges will ever eventuate. He says we should have brought in the Australian Federal Police despite them turning down a request for help as the issue was outside their jurisdiction.

“What should have happened is what would happen in any other crime scene,” he says.

“For starters, one, we could have started by quarantining the crime scene as in the people implicated in the murder weren’t the people responsible for managing the crime scene.

“Two, everyone suspected of being involved in the murder or attacks should have been suspended.

“Three, we should have brought in the Australian Federal Police immediately and taken affidavit statements from every asylum seeker and anyone else that was a witness.

“And four, we should have then actually charged people for the offenses they committed.

“But none of those things are going to happen and most of those things are now too late in terms of contaminated crime scene and the failure to act quickly.”

He says the asylum seeker issue doesn’t have to be as problematic as the government is portraying and that they have a chance to do something positive in a bad situation.

“This is not a crisis for the government, this is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to show just how far we will go, here’s what awaits you if you come to our country seeking our protection,” says Mr Karapanagiotidis.

“They actually don’t have a crisis and I think that’s part of what’s so dismally appalling and that in part is possible because the Labor Party complicity goes along with them and says ‘yes! Keep going, don’t look back.’”

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