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March 29, 2011

DETENTION BECOMES A DEATH SENTENCE; ANGER GROWS AT CURTIN

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release March 29, 2010

Refugee supporters are appalled at the news that mandatory detention has taken another asylum seeker’s life, this time in the remote Curtin detention centre.

The 20 year-old Afghan asylum seeker, Mohammad, committed suicide late yesterday (Monday) afternoon. He was found hanging in his room by others who returned to the accommodation block and found his room locked.

Although more than half of the 1200 asylum seekers at Curtin, have received rejections, it is believed that this man was still waiting for an initial answer to his asylum application.

Such is the mood of the detention centre and rate of rejection, it seems his suicide may have been triggered by the fact that a few people who had arrived on a boat after his received their visas yesterday.

“It seems he may have interpreted this as meaning he had been or was likely to be rejected. It is both a tragedy and a crime. Mandatory detention has become a death sentence. How many more lives is going to take before the government acts to end off-shore processing mandatory detention,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Late yesterday afternoon, a crowd was growing outside the medical centre, where Mohammad’s body had been taken. There were two cases of self-harm immediately following the discovery of the body. Another asylum seeker collapsed and was also taken to the medical centre.

“The is anger and upset all through the detention centre. There is no hope in here now. There is just rejection, rejection,” one Curtin asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Self harm in Curtin is at epidemic proportions. There is an incident almost every day,” said Rintoul.

“The government’s decision to impose a visa freeze on Afghan asylum seekers already condemned Curtin asylum seekers to long term detention. There is a fundamental flaw in off-shore processing that the government must address. Initial refusals are being overturned in over 50 per cent of the cases. Those rejections are costing lives and condemning asylum seekers to months of unnecessary detention.”

A cavalcade of refugee supporters, most travelling by bus from Perth, is converging on Curtin detention centre over Easter.

For more information, contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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