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July 18, 2011

ROOF TOP PROTESTS DISRUPT CHRISTMAS ISLAND AND DARWIN DETENTION CENTRES

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Both Christmas Island and Darwin detention centres have been hit by roof top protests.

Christmas Island detention centre has been locked down today (Monday 18 July) after up to eleven asylum seekers began a roof top protest last night.

It is not known if the asylum seekers are still on the roof.

The asylum seekers in White 1, Christmas Island are protesting against one of the White 1 asylum seekers being held in the notorious high security Red One compound– the so-called “behavioural management unit”.

Red One was the compound stormed by angry protesters in March this year. And the scene of the use of tear gas and fired bean bag rounds, by Federal police against protesting asylum seekers. Asylum seekers in Red One are often kept in solitary confinement, under 24 hour surveillance.

It is now being operated by a British Serco team that specialised in forced deportation removals.

“On Christmas Island, Red One is effectively a punishment unit that should be closed permanently,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Meanwhile in Darwin detention centre, five detainees – two Iraqis and three stateless asylum seekers remain on the roof protesting at the long delays in processing their visa claims.

Despite recent moves to speed up processing, many in Darwin have been waiting over 17 months for answers. Asylum seekers say that the detention centre is tense. After a flurry of visas and people being released into community detention, in the week after the protests, it has been sustained.

“There is also a great deal of frustration as some relatively recent claims who have been waiting for a few months are getting visas before those who have been waiting three or four times longer. It also seems that the agreement for there to be weekly meetings between asylum seekers and management has stalled,” said Ian Rintoul.

“The system is unfair,” one asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition. “We are waiting too long,” the asylum seekers said.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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