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March 29, 2012

VIETNAMESE ASYLUM SEEKERS HUNGER STRIKE IN DARWIN

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

It is believed at least a dozen Vietnamese asylum seekers in Darwin’s Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC) are on hunger strike.

The hunger strike highlights the toxic environment at the NIDC which has produced an epidemic of self-harm and attempted suicides.

At the end of February, the immigration department reported that 807 asylum seekers had been in detention for 18 months or longer.

“The NIDC has high proportion of long term detainees and the disgraceful level of self-harm that goes with that. It should be closed,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The government’s failure to act on long term detained asylum seekers is adding to the tensions and the anxiety inside the detention centres. Long term detainees are watching newly arrived asylum seekers being processed much more quickly, sometimes being released on bridging visas or community detention within months while people in detention for a year or longer are left in limbo,” Rintoul said.

The NIDC has been the centre of recent criticisms from Paul Bauert, president of the Northern Territory branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA). Bauert has said that between three and five asylum-seekers, and sometimes more, were brought to the emergency department of Darwin Hospital each day.

National Convergence

To mark the twentieth year of mandatory detention, Darwin will be the focus of a national convergence of refugee activists at Easter this year – starting with a city rally and march on Good Friday. There will be protests at all Darwin’s detention centres over the next three days of Easter.

“We want to bring attention to the shocking reality of mandatory detention by converging on the nation’s detention capital,” said Ian Rintoul.

“There are around 1100 people including a large number of children in detention in Darwin’s three detention centres – and another section of Wickham Point in planned to open in May. That’s 1100 too many. We are calling for an end to mandatory detention. Twenty years is too long.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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