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August 25, 2012


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Six long term immigration detainees, four refugees and two asylum seekers, being flown from Christmas Island to Villawood on Sunday morning have been told that they will be handcuffed for the entire journey.

Despite protests to both Serco and the Immigration Department, immigration officers have told the detainees that the handcuffs are a condition set by the company doing the charter flight.

One of the Iranian refugees told the Refugee Action Coalition that he is deeply offended by the action. “This is a serious humiliation. No-one will look at us as normal civilized people. I have been taken from Christmas Island to Curtin and even taken to Hakea prison and have never been handcuffed before,” he said.

“This a denial of their basic human rights,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “Refugees are not guilty of any crime. The department says these people pose no risk to anyone, yet it is allowing these refugees and asylum seekers to be treated as criminals, actually worse than most criminals.

“We want the Minister to cancel this charter flight and guarantee that these people will be treated with respect. Four of them are actually recognised refugees, people who Australia has an obligation to protect.

“It is a disgrace that the Minister is allowing refugees to be treated in such a way. The government seems to be deliberately promoting the view that refugees are some kind of threat,” said Rintoul.

This latest mistreatment comes only days after the Home Affairs Ministers Jason Clare claim that asylum seekers had been aggressive and had threatened the crew of a ship that rescued them, was exposed as untrue.

There are aviation protocols in place that requires that asylum seekers on flights are treated the same as other passengers and not be discriminated against.

The flight also exposes the fact that refugees are being held for months while the Minister makes character assessments before finally grant protection visas. At least one of the refugees on the flight has been waiting over four months for the final decision by the Minister. There are others in detention waiting over 10 months.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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