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October 25, 2011

TWO YEARS IN DETENTION: BURMESE REFUGEE RESUMES DARWIN ROOF TOP PROTEST

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

A Burmese refugee in detention two weeks short of two years began a roof top protest at the Darwin detention centre Sunday night, 23 October, has resumed his protest on Monday 24 October.

After receiving an electric shock from the electrified fences of the detention centre and developing chest pains on Sunday night, the man was taken to hospital but brought back to the detention centre Monday morning.

After being told by a case manager this (Monday) morning that he would not be considered for community detention, the man resumed his protest on the roof at 5pm Monday afternoon.

The 33 year-old Rohingyan man has been found to be a refugee but has now been waiting for two years for ASIO to complete his security check.

On Sunday night, the man told other asylum seekers that he could not take it any longer. He has a wife and two sons in Malaysia. His whole family has only recently been released after being jailed for nine months on immigration violations.

“The man should be immediately released. Last week ASIO revealed to a Senate estimates hearing that it does not require refugees to be in detention while security checks are completed,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“There are at least two other Rohingyan refugees in Darwin in the same situation and hundreds in detention centyres across Australia. They all should be released.

“The Darwin protester is a recognized refugee, yet he has been deprived of his liberty for two years. By depriving him of any possibility of earning a living, the government has also inflicted two years of misery and deprivation on his family. The anxiety caused is a form of mental torture.

“We are also calling for Serco to act with restraint with respect to the roof top protest. In several incidents recently, Darwin roof top protesters have been beaten when they have come down from the roof. It has also been revealed that Serco has indulged in the dangerous practice of refusing water to roof top protesters as a means of forcing them end their protest.

“The Darwin detention centre should be the subject of an open inquiry. The whole centre is a tinder-box running on damage control, as the detainees’ despair increases day by day. Its high security North 3 compound where protesters or others deemed to be trouble-makers are often imprisoned is also developing a reputation for the mistreatment of asylum seekers.

“The treatment of this Rohingyan refugee contradicts Minister Bowen recent claims there would be increased use of bridging visas and community detention to release asylum seekers. This man has been recognized as a man to whom Australia owes protection – there are no excuses for the Minister not to release him.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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