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September 14, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Tensions are growing inside the Darwin detention centre.

Up to 20 asylum seekers have buried themselves in a hole that has been dug in the South 2 compound. They have been there for over 24 hours supported by other detainees in the compound. The dining room is being boycotted and periodically, chants of “Freedom, freedom,” can be heard from the compound.

The protest in south 2 come on the top of the daily protests in North 1 where for the last ten days, angry asylum seekers have been holding two one hour protests – between 12 an 1pm and between 6 and 7pm, watched nervously by guards anxious that the situation is about to escalate further.

Some asylum seekers have been approached to act as informers for Serco and the Department of Immigration.

One Afghan man who had been on hunger strike has been lying on the roof – deprived of food and water by Serco guards, although other detainees have made efforts to assist him.

Asylum seekers are angry at the long delays they face in detention. There are now people who have been in detention for over two years.

They are also angry with the broken promises of the Darwin DIAC detention manager who promised to bring answers to the protesters four days ago. The manager spoke at the midday protest meeting and told the detainees that he would bring answers to their questions, but has not been since then.

“We are waiting, waiting but still we get no answers from him [the DIAC manager],” one asylum seekers told the Refugee Action Coalition. “We have been told that no-one, not the manager, not the Minister, no-one knows when we can get out of here,” he said.

“It is only a matter of time before Darwin detention explodes,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“By reneging on his promise, the DIAC manager is playing with fire. The department is playing with their lives. There is no reason why people should be waiting for months to get appeal dates or answers from their appeals. The delays with the hearings and the delays with security clearances is destroying hopes and sapping their mental health.

“The government must act urgently. The asylum seekers in Darwin are the victims of mandatory detention. And it is not just in Darwin. In Scherger, where 50 per cent of detainees are on the highest medication, people have been waiting up to 25 months for answers.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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