Claims Manus Island asylum seekers sew mouths shut

A REFUGEE advocacy group has claimed that up to 50 asylum seekers on Manus Island have stitched their mouths shut in protest over their continued detention.

The group has also claimed that 500 detainees are undertaking a hunger strike after refusing both food and water.

Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul said on Friday the protesters are in Mike Compound and there are growing fears the unrest could spread to other areas of the controversial detention centre.

The group claims to have pictures of detainees who have stitched their mouths shut, but they could not be independently verified.

Mike Compound hit the headlines last year after days of violent protests led to the death of Iranian asylum-seeker Reza Barati.

"Tensions have been rising in recent days as most of the asylum seekers approach 18 months of detention," Mr Rintoul said.

"There have also been threats that those who have been determined to be refugees will be taken by force into insecure accommodation at Lorengau (PNG) where they fear they will be vulnerable to attacks by locals."

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Friday that the protests would not alter the government's resolve on its asylum seeker policy.

He said that detainees would never be settled in Australia.

"My very clear message is to people that would seek to misinform those transferees, that somehow if their behaviour is changed or that they become non-compliant, that somehow that will result in them settling in Australia," he said.

"It will not ... and I repeat that to the people who are in Manus, and in other facilities, that is a very clear, strong and determined message from me as minister ... and that will not change."

Mr Dutton said the situation was volatile and confirmed there had been self-harm attempts at the facility, but would not comment specifically on the individual cases.

He said that he would be travelling to Manus Island and Nauru in coming weeks.


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