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November 22, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Another desperate protest has hit the Darwin detention centre. Five stateless Fali Kurd asylum seekers, calling themselves “IMR victims” have staged protests and self harmed throughout Monday 21 November. (IMR is the so-called “Independent Merits Review”, the appeal hearing after asylum seekers have been rejected at their initial interview.)

During the day, three of them stitched their lips together in a protest over the length of time they have been held in detention.

Then, on Monday night around 9.00pm Darwin time, the fourth Kurdish asylum seeker was taken to hospital by ambulance after he collapsed after taking an overdose. The fifth, who also took an overdose, collapsed around forty minutes later and was also taken to hospital. Their condition is not known.

Shouting and screaming could be heard in the compound where the Kurds had collapsed.

The five Fali Kurds have been in detention for between 18 and 22 months. All of them have been rejected at both their initial assessment and at their IMR appeal. But none of them have proceedings in the Federal Magistrates Court and are now in limbo.

The five sent letters to their case managers a few days ago asking when they will get their Federal Magistrates Court hearing, and to be sent back if they cannot stay in Australia or released on bridging visa or community detention.

“Their case manager just tells them, ‘Be patient. Be patient,’ but they can’t take it any more,” a fellow asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition on Monday night.

“They are waiting almost two years while new arrivals are being released. Nobody knows what is going on. People from boat 250 are being released, but what about boat 150?” he said.

The protest highlights the arbitrariness of the off-shore processing system and plight of stateless asylum seekers in detention. The government knows that it cannot send the Fali Kurds anywhere, yet they are being kept in detention. There are also huge anomalies in the processing of Fali Kurds. Some assessors recognise the repression and state persecution they suffer and grant refugee status, while other assessors deny they are refugees effectively condemning them to indefinite detention.

All of them are on sleeping tablets and other medication. “They are addicted, “We take medicine to sleep, and medicine to eat, medicine to live the day. They are keeping their lips stitched until they get an answer,” the Refugee Action Coalition was told.

“There are hundreds of stateless asylum seekers and Iranians in exactly the same situation. The off-shore processing system must be reviewed. All the stateless asylum seekers, and all those still waiting for security clearances should be immediately released. Prolonged detention is destroying their physical and mental health,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713

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