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July 7, 2011

DARWIN PROTEST ‘IN THE BALANCE’ AFTER IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS PLEAD WITH ASYLUM SEEKERS

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

After assembling to begin their protest this morning, asylum seekers at Darwin detention centre are waiting to meet the detention centre manager later this afternoon, before they decide whether to continue or not.

A Canberra official held three separate meetings this (Thursday) morning with asylum seekers. In an effort to convince them to call off their protest, the official told them that the immigration department had a new policy to speed up processing refugee claims, and that he would make more representations to the Department in Canberra to improve things in the future and “…find a solution for them.”

The immigration officials were also armed with news that 10 refugees would be released, another 15 people would be granted visas and 15 would be released into community detention this weekend. The asylum seekers were told that another 20 people would get visas next week.

But this morning, with one man being told that his appeal had been rejected after 15 months in detention and waiting 5 months for an answer to his appeal, the detainees are undecided on whether the “promises” of the department can be believed.

The Canberra official urged them to wait until their meeting with the Darwin detention manager before making a decision to maintain their protest.

“There is a lot riding on this afternoon’s meeting,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “The asylum seekers are expecting concrete proposals from the detention manager about what is going to happen now.

“Not surprisingly there is no trust between Serco, immigration and the asylum seekers – and there is a history of immigration breaking promises. If the epidemic of self-harm and attempted suicide incidents is going to be halted, there must be immediate concrete action from the government.

“There is no reason for any of the asylum seekers in Darwin to be held in detention. The delays are taking a terrible toll on their mental health. The least the government could do is release all those found to be refugees but waiting for security clearances could be immediately released. Similarly, those waiting for IMR decisions could be given answers with a week.

“But, whether even those measure would be enough to stall further protest action will only decided by the asylum seekers who have been waiting too long and suffered too much already.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.

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