On Tuesday, the five-judge bench of the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruled the Australian offshore detention centre unconstitutional on the basis that it breaches individual human rights.
Prime minister Peter O’Neill issued a statement Wednesday asking the Australian government to “make alternative arrangements” for the 850 asylum seekers being held in the centre.
“This day was my big dream during the last three years,” Boochani said. “I can feel freedom, it is a really amazing day for me and all prisoners in Manus. I’m happy that eventually the justice smiled to our faces.”
Boochani said the celebrations were stilted at first, as the detainees are used to hearing positive news that doesn’t eventuate.
However, after PNG immigration officials visited the centre on Wednesday to read out the court order, and O’Neill issued the directive for the centre to close, detainees hugged one another, danced, sung and shouted “Freedom!”.
“This time, they trust in this positive news,” said Boochani. “They can feel freedom by this news and we will have celebrations. Today people were happy and not scared to show their happiness.”