Refugee Action Coalition
NAURU PROTESTS CONTINUE DESPITE THE FENCE
Nauru asylum seekers in the family compound RPC 3 have protested their long-term detention for the tenth day in a row. Despite the fence erected across the main detention road to prevent the protesters actually reaching the gate of the detention center, women, men and children march to the fence to hold their protest.
Immigration panic as Manus court challenge looms
Meetings in the Manus Island detention centre compounds this morning (Tuesday 29 March) have outlined a series of moves by Australian and PNG Immigration attempting to resolve the detention and resettlement issue before the Supreme Court challenge to the Manus Island detention centre, scheduled for the end of April.
Asylum seekers and refugees were told (i) that all refugee processing will end by 31 March; (ii) those with negative determinations will have their appeals resolved by 31 June; (iii) from 6 April, those found to be refugees will be separated from those who have negative determinations. Those found to be refugees will be housed in Delta and Oscar, while those found not to be refugees will be housed in Mike and Foxtrot compounds. People will be moved forcibly after 6 April if necessary, but any person who moved earlier will receive 50 points that can be used at the detention centre canteen. Anyone who refuses to move will have their points cut; meaning they will no longer have access to the canteen for supplies or phone cards.
It is rumoured that extra guards have been flown from Australia, but that cannot be confirmed.
Those who have been found to be refugees have also been threatened that they have to accept resettlement in PNG or they will be forcibly removed from PNG; something the government is not able to legally carry out.
It is unclear what the announcement means for the 60-odd people who have refused to accept processing in PNG in protest at being forcibly transported to Manus Island from Australia, where they did ask for asylum on arrival.
“There is every sign that PNG Immigration and Australian Immigration are panicked at the possibility that they will lose the Supreme Court challenge to Manus Island detention that is scheduled to start in late April,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“Immigration routinely makes threats and restricts rights in the effort to force people to leave the detention centre or return to their home countries. The cash offer to ‘voluntarily’ return home has recently been increased to $10,000 but no-one has accepted it.”
Of the hundreds who have been found to be refugees, only around 60 have been willing to move out of the centre to the so-called transit accommodation at East Lorengau on Manus Island.
One Manus refugee told the Refugee Action Coalition, “The message was clear for us – whether you are a refugee or not, they want to clear the detention centre. But there is no safety in PNG.”
“It is always disappointing to see the Immigration Department inflicting further punishment on asylum seekers and refugees rather than face up to the failure of the offshore detention regime,” said Rintoul, “They are desperate to avoid the consequences of a successful court challenge which could find that the Manus detention centre has never been constitutional and that the human rights of asylum seekers have been breached from day one.”
The announcement has increased tensions at the detention centre. A majority have already decided they will not cooperate with any attempt to force them to move compounds.
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713
Kurdish refugee in indefinite detention re-starts hunger strike after Immigration breaks promise of community detention
Refugee advocates have grave fears for the welfare of 36-year-old Kurdish refugee, Sardar Zahiri, who has re-started a hunger strike in Melbourne after being moved from Perth.
Sardar was hospitalised in Perth after twenty days of a hunger strike in the Perth detention centre in February, this year.
After continuing his hunger strike at the Royal Perth Hospital, he was told by the treating psychiatrist that he had discussed Zahiri’s case with Immigration and that Immigration had agreed, if Zahiri began eating, he would be transferred to a Melbourne clinic and then placed in community detention. Other hospital staff and IHMS are believed to be witnesses to the commitment given to Sardar.
Zahiri was transferred to The Melbourne Clinic, a private psychiatric hospital, but instead of being released in to community detention, Sardar has now been placed in the high security, Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre (MIDC).
He waited five days to see if the promise of community detention was going to be kept. Then, Sardar began a hunger strike in protest at the broken promise four days ago, Monday, 21 March. His physical condition has deteriorated rapidly.
“We are seriously concerned for Sardar’s welfare,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “He has lost all hope, and any trust, which wasn’t much, that he had in the Immigration officers and doctors, who promised he would get community detention.
“Why immigration would live up to the first part of its undertaking to Sardar, to transfer him to Melbourne, but has reneged on the issue of community detention is both cruel and inexplicable, unless they want to inflict yet more mental torture.”
Sardar’s case is eerily reminiscent of that of Fezal Chegeni, the Kurdish man who was found dead on Christmas Island in November, last year.
In spite of being found to be a refugee in 2012, Sardar has been held in indefinite detention as a result of being given a good behaviour bond in 2013 following some property being damaged in an incident in the Darwin detention centre.
His detention nightmare has led Sardar to attempt suicide on 12 occasions. He has damaged neck vertebrae, giving him constant pain, from a hanging attempt in Darwin early this year.
Immigration officers at MIDC told Sardar this morning that the Minister has not made a decision for him to be moved into community detention, and in relation to his hunger strike, that “It was not important whether you live or die, that is up to you.”
“Sardar’s detention is inexcusable. He should not be in detention at all,” said Rintoul, “The last skerricks of hope have been snatched away from him. Immigration needs to urgently make good on the commitment that it made to Sardar.”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713