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May 6, 2010


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release, May 6, 2010

As asylum seekers in Darwin detention centre received rejections from their first refugee assessment, refugee groups today condemned the Immigration Minister for playing a cruel hoax on asylum seekers taken from Christmas Island to the centre.

On April 19, as the men were hastily transported to the Darwin detention to relieve crowding on Christmas Island, Immigration Minister Chris Evans stated that the asylum seekers were on a “positive pathway” – ie that they going to be granted refugee visas.

“For many of them, the Minister’s statement was the first indication that their refugee application had been successful,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

But a few days ago, a number of the asylum seekers were handed rejection notices. It is not known how many people received the notices or the nationalities involved although some were Afghan.

“The Minister has perpetrated a cruel deception on the Darwin asylum seekers, and he has deceived the Australian public in the process. The government claims to be humane towards asylum seekers, but it is difficult to imagine a more vicious trick to play on such vulnerable people. Their hopes for a secure future have been dashed.

“The rejection notices have led to anger and despair among the detainees. They don’t know what to believe any more. It is exactly this kind of arbitrariness and uncertainty that leads to mental anguish and acts of self-harm,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“This is simply unforgivable. The Minister should resign and the departmental officers responsible for the misleading information should be sacked,” said Rintoul.

“The lack of communication and access to lawyers is also increasing anxiety inside the detention centre. The Darwin facility is simply not equipped to deal with the asylum seekers. What was meant to be a quick fix is turning into a disaster.”

For more information contact Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.

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