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October 26, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

A Tamil refugee in the Villawood detention centre has committed suicide in the early hours of Wednesday, 26 October.

“Shooty”, as he was known to his friends, was taken to hospital after taking poison but died shortly afterwards.

He had been in detention for just over two years and had recently been moved to the family compound at Villawood. He had been accepted as a refugee about seven months ago, but was waiting for an ASIO security assessment.

There had been a number of approaches to the Department of Immigration for him to be released into community detention, but they have been unsuccessful.

He had made an application for permission to attend a Hindu festival today and received a letter rejecting his request yesterday afternoon.

This is the sixth suicide in detention and the fourth at Villawood since September 2009.

Tragically, he had witnessed the three other successful suicides in Villawood. The Coroner’s report expected to be released soon, is also expected to have damning criticisms of Serco and the Department of Immigration.

“How many more lives will it take before the government acts to end mandatory detention? How absolutely tragic, but how telling, that an accepted refugee could feel despair enough to take their own life in a detention centre? ” asked Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“There are over 1500 people, accepted as refugees, being held in detention waiting for ASIO security assessments. These refugees should be released immediately.”

The Refugee Action Coalition is holding a protest at the Sydney offices of the Immigration Department, 26 Lee Street, City at 12.30 today (Wednesday 26 October). One of the speakers is Dr Michael Dudley chair of Suicide Prevention Australia.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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