Manus asylum seeker speaks about incident involving boy

The Afghan asylum seeker at the centre of conflicting reports about how violence involving gunshots broke out on Manus Island on Easter weekend has denied any wrongdoing.


Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has repeatedly claimed an attack on asylum seekers by PNG military personnel was sparked after a young boy was led into the detention centre.

Mr Dutton has insisted the incident involving the child, and a separate sexual assault, helped elevate tension on Manus Island before the violence broke out.

The regional police commander on Manus and Manus Island politician Ronny Knight have questioned and contradicted Mr Dutton’s account.

The PNG military says the incident was instead triggered by an altercation on a football field.

Now, the 34-year-old Afghan refugee, who asked not to be named, has given an explanation of his actions in leading the boy, thought to be 10 years old, into the detention centre.

The man has told the A-B-C his actions were completely innocent and he was only giving the boy food.

“I grew up in a country that had war and bombs and fighting and all of these things, and I was raised without a father. I experienced hunger, I experienced being thirsty, I experienced poverty, and I know how it feels for a child to be hungry. And when I see that, I cannot just close my eyes and not help.”

The Afghan man said he had fruit inside the centre and walked with the boy through a staffed security gate.

He says his actions were well-received by guards and the boy.

He denies taking the boy inside the centre caused angst in the local community and says it happened days before the violence broke out.

“It’s a shame for Peter Dutton to say that. I did this child a favour. In other countries, is it shameful to help a poor child? In my country, it is respected, and we all do this. I just helped a child, but Peter Dutton took something else from it.”

Mr Dutton is not backing off his version of events, repeating his position on the matter again on 2GB radio yesterday.

“We have seen reports. We are concerned about some allegations of sexual behaviour by the asylum seekers toward girls and women on Manus. I was very clear in what I said, and I stand by it a hundred per cent. I haven’t deviated from it at all, and I won’t, because I know what I’ve said to be factually true. So, that’s the reality.”

The Afghan man and two other men involved in the allegations have requested the CCTV footage of them walking with the boy be released.

The Refugee Action Coalition’s Ian Rintoul says he has spoken to the men and it is imperative Mr Dutton clear up the facts.

“Now there are straight-out lies being told about them, lies that could be easily cleared up by the release of CCTV footage on Friday night. There’s CCTV coverage around the whole of the detention centre, as you can imagine. The idea that this is classified is just absurd. So people are upset, they’re angry, that these kinds of accusations are being put against them by the Minister.”