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Issue #1544      25 April 2012

Long-term detainees’ roof-top protest

Four long-term Iranian asylum seekers are maintaining their roof top protest at Darwin’s most notorious detention centre, the Northern Immigration Detention Centre.

The four, who started the protest on April 18, say they plan to stay on the roof until they get answers from the Immigration Department. The high security NIDC facility is notorious for its toxic environment – producing one of the highest rates of self-harm and attempted suicide of any of the detention centres.

“The place is a jail,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “The immigration department has admitted that it is not a suitable place for asylum seekers, but efforts to move people away from the toxic environment seem to have stalled.”

But inside the detention centre, Serco and Immigration are maintaining their harassment and intimidation tactics. There are fears that two asylum seekers taken by Serco guards may be placed in North 3 – the punishment compound in NIDC or are being moved to punishment cells on Christmas Island.

On April 19, Serco began more efforts to intimidate asylum seekers and prevent others joining the protest by conducting a room-to-room search.

Over the Easter weekend, Serco management warned NIDC asylum seekers that any moves – even waving a hand – to support protests would result in their files being handed to the Federal Police and put an end to any hopes of the detainees being released on community detention.

“There is no excuse for Serco’s threats. asylum seekers have a right to protest,” said Ian Rintoul.

“It is simply government bloody-mindedness that is keeping these asylum seekers in NIDC. They are suffering the mental health consequences of long term detention simply because the government does not have the political will to act.

“Some of the people have friends and relatives in the community willing to accommodate and support them, but still the government stalls. That Serco would punish asylum seekers for daring to protest against indefinite detention is further proof that asylum seekers human rights are being abused in detention.”  


Next article – Files and spies

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