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November 15, 2010

ANOTHER VILLAWOOD SUICIDE DEMANDS FULL INQUIRY INTO DETENTION

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media release November 16, 2010

An Iraqi asylum seeker, Ahmad, is believed to have committed suicide at Villawood detention centre around midnight Monday night.

Detainees found the man hanging in a bathroom and took him down and eye-witnesses are sure he was dead. Some people are very angry that it took 45 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

Initial reports indicate the man, 41 years old, had a wife and four children. He had been in detention, on Christmas Island and in Villawood, for over one year.

He had been rejected twice under the off-shore processing arrangements that were found to be invalid in the recent High Court decision.

All other detainees in stage 3 have now been mustered on the soccer field. There are a large number of police in the detention centre and the atmosphere is anxious and tense, according to asylum seekers inside the detention centre.

“We are shocked and very upset,” said one detainee, “People are crying. He knew about the High Court [decision] but there is no new policy. Everyone is very tired. We wait day after day.”

“The factories of mental illness have claimed yet another victim,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“We are devastated by this news. A number of us visited asylum seekers in Villawood on Sunday to let them know about the High Court case. The High Court decision seemed to provide a small window of hope, but for some the wait is too long and they have given up hope already.

“Incidents of self harm are becoming daily occurrences at detention centres across the country. There needs to be a full inquiry into Ahmad’s death and into mandatory detention itself. The mandatory detention system is literally killing people.

“In 2008, Labor declared that detention was a last resort but it the first and only resort for asylum seekers arriving by boat. There are other asylum seekers in Villawood who have been found to be refugees but are still waiting after 18 months. This is the second suicide in Villawood in just over two months.”

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