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September 9, 2011

PROTESTS CONTINUE AT DARWIN DETENTION CENTRE

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

The daily protests inside Darwin detention centre are continuing. For the last five days, up to 70 asylum seekers have been holding hourly protests twice a day – between 12.00 and 1.00pm and from 6.00-7.00pm. More protests will happen today.

The protests involve all nationalities in the detention centre– Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans, Burmese and Ahwaj Arab Iranian minority.

The protests have banners saying, “We are prisoners in a land of liberty,” and “We are human, stop playing with our lives and future,” “People smugglers and DIAC are the same, both of them playing with our life” and another compares Australian detention with Guantanamo Bay.

Frustration is growing inside the detention centre as Serco and immigration has ignored the demands of the protesters about long term detention. The dismissive proposals from Serco in response to the protests, to change the food, offer more fruit, bring singers into detention have only inflamed the tempers of the asylum seekers.

Most have been in detention at least a year, some two years. One of them, in detention for a year, has now been waiting six months to get a date for an appeal hearing after an initial rejection.

“Nobody comes to see us, nobody cares,” one of the protesters told the Refugee Action Coalition, “New rules are made for new arrivals, but we are waiting and waiting and there is nothing for us. Everytime, Serco, and immigration say ‘we know your problem but we can’t do anything.’ We need help.”

“There are self harm and attempted suicide every day and every night. A lot of people have mental health problem. People try to hang themselves.”

“We are urging the Immigration department to urgently respond to the situation in Darwin. The problems with mandatory detention need to be rectified as much as the government’s mistaken obsession with off-shore processing in Malaysia,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The asylum seekers want someone from immigration department and give them some explanation and answers. There is no excuse for the long delays in processing. Asylum seekers were promised more than six months ago that processing would be sped up, but that hasn’t happened.

“Doing nothing is not an option. The protests will only escalate.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713

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