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January 5, 2010

Christmas Island Tamil detainees protest over slow processing

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release January 5, 2010

Over 400 Tamil asylum seekers at Christmas Island have begun a protest boycott of activities inside the detention centre as the first part of a protest against long term detention and the slowness of refugee processing on the island.
The detainees are boycotting the gym, internet, and library services and as of Monday began boycotting the canteen.

Processing of Tamil applications is notoriously slow with many people left waiting over six months for an answer to their applications. In particular the protest is focusing on the fate of a boat load of 196 Tamils that arrived in June 2009.

Of the 196 Tamils, 112 have received visas but 78 are still waiting after six months. None of another boat of 78 Tamils that arrived in mid August has received a visa, after waiting for over five months.

The waiting period is well outside the 90 day self-imposed Immigration department for processing applications on the mainland.

“How long do we have to wait? We are too long waiting. Our families have problems. We have too many problems,” one detainee told the Refugee Action Coalition by phone form the detention centre.

The protest has won a meeting between DIAC and Tamil detainees that has been scheduled for Wednesday morning Christmas Island. The boycott of activities has been suspended pending the outcome of that meeting.

“If the answer is not satisfactory, we will start more protests,” the Refugee Action Coalition was told.

“There is no good reason that it is taking so long for Tamil asylum applications to be processed,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “All of the Oceanic Viking Tamil asylum seekers were processed within six weeks. The Tamils are victims of Labor maintaining a policy of off-shore processing –part of Kevin Rudd’s Indonesia solution.

“Detention on Christmas Island is a nightmare. The effects of long term detention are already well-established. The vast majority of Tamils are being found to be refugees.

“The Immigration Minister claims that government policy humane towards asylum seekers. But there is nothing humane about long term detention. Christmas Island is a disgraceful monument to the anti-refugee policies of the Howard era. It is time it was closed. Asylum seekers should be allowed to live in the community while their applications are being processed.”

For more information contact Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul 04176 275 713

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