Press release Refugee Action Coalition 24.4.2011 A hunger strike and sit-in involving 300 and more asylum seekers at Curtin detention centre is expected to escalate overnight. The asylum seekers are asking that they be allowed to see refugee supporters who have travelled from Perth and cities to see them over the Easter weekend. Already hundreds of asylum seekers have asked Serco if they can meet the refugee activists.
The sit in near the main gate of the detention centre is surrounded by placards and slogans written on sheets saying, “Where are our human rights,” “Why are we waiting so long,” “Stop the persecution,” and “Civilised people of Australia, please help.”
The protest began on Saturday morning over asylum seekers’ concerns that the Serco management of the detention centre would move to prevent refugee supporters from visiting them over the Easter weekend. Around 60 refugee supporters, including a bus of 50 activists from Perth, have travelled across Australia to visit the detention centre.
Tensions have grown since Serco has ignored a letter, asking that a delegation from the convergence of refugee supported be allowed into the main detention centre to meet asylum seekers and see the conditions ‘where we’. The letter was signed by 700 asylum seekers and handed to Serco management on Thursday 21 April.
Serco has insisted that only one-on-one visits will be allowed, an arrangement that will only allow about 50 asylum seekers to see a visitor.
The refugee convergence will back the asylum seekers protest and push for a delegation to meet the asylum seekers inside the detention centre when they rally at the gate of the detention centre on Sunday morning (24 April).
Late Saturday night, asylum seekers had rejected a Serco proposal that asylum seekers meet a delegation of refugee supporters outside the detention centre, insisting that a delegation of refugee supporters must be allowed to visit them inside the detention centre.
The unrest has been growing inside the detention centre since the suicide of a young Afghan asylum seeker at the centre a few weeks ago. Over 1000 of the almost 1500 asylum seekers at Curtin have had their initial refugee application rejected. Others are still waiting for ASIO security clearances after 20 months.
“The frustration at Curtin is the same as that which has exploded at Christmas Island and Villawood in the last few weeks. Mandatory and long term detention has created a tinder box of despair inside the detention centres,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “After a recent hunger strike at Curtin involving over 1000 asylum seekers were told that their claims would be processed quickly. But the immigration department has reneged on its promise.
“Given the events at Villawood, the department is playing a risky game with refugee rights at Curtin.”
Refugee supporter banned from Curtin
Meanwhile, in an astonishing display of political arrogance, late Saturday afternoon (23 April), Serco management, under instructions from Immigration bosses at the centre, banned Jemima Mowbray, a Sydney member of the Refugee Action Coalition from any further visits to asylum seekers there.
Jemima was accused of making unspecified suggestions to asylum seekers of actions that might seekers might take in the detention centre. The Serco manager who delivered the banning order on behalf of the Immigration department was unable to specify any concrete suggestion that Jemima had made.
“It is a complete abuse of their sweeping bureaucratic power, “said Ian Rintoul, “but it is entirely symptomatic of the mentality of the department and the Serco management, that rides roughshod over the human rights of asylum seekers.”
Message from Curtin hunger striker
I want to confirm you that today the people who wanted to come and visit us in Curtin Detention Center they have stoped by Serco and Immigration 2 Kilo Metres away from us we cant see them and they cant see us as well ,
Curtin Detention Center has two gates, One is 2 kilo metres away and one of the gate is intry gate , They have stoped in the first gate they cant come in,
Now 200 people are in Hanger Strike, it’s going to be more, The people are coming still to set infront the Immigration’s building maybe it become more than 500 Handred people
this strike is why they have stoped the visiter people , We need to say our pain for them but they stoped them ,
Please pass this my email to the News ane Magazines ,
The people should hear our voice that how we are passing hardly our lifes in Detention Center ,
But no body care about us
I myself it’s more than 14 months that I’m still in Detention Center ,
Why they have stoped us here with out any fault?
Am I a killer or am I a criminel that they stoped me in Prison?
There is no one in whole Australia to understand us?
We were seeking Asylem not Prison
Please pass it to all Australian news
thanks with the best wishes