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July 7, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Darwin asylum seekers have put their protest on hold until next Tuesday after meeting with the detention centre manager late this afternoon.

Over 100 asylum seekers had been holding a peaceful protest with placards such as, ‘Please help us to get out of this cage’, ‘committed no crime’, ‘We are humans, same like you’. Others read, “we are asking the Australian people to see we are not criminal, we commit no crime, we are begging for out life, for our future,” “18 months is not fair process,” and “Our family is gone, am I next? We need help from Australian people.”

The manager repeated some of the assurances from this mornings meeting with the Canberra immigration official. They have been told there will be “many changes” and that there will be something new for people facing long delays and rejections.

There has been an agreement for the manager to hold a meeting with asylum seekers every Tuesday to explain developments and what is being done for their cases.

But tension remains high. Just after the meeting ended, one young Iranian man took a rope and climbed high into a tree threatening to suicide. Serco guards and asylum seekers surrounded the tree. Fellow asylum seekers managed to talk him down.

The risk of further self harm and attempted suicide remains high. The mental trauma obvious from protest signs such as, “Detention takes life, family, hopes, humanity, minds – this is mental punishment, not physical punishment”. A majority of the asylum seekers are on medication of some kind.

“Unless the government addresses the fundamental issue of mandatory detention, it is only a matter of time until there are more tragic incidents in Darwin, or some other detention centre,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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