Monthly Archives: October 2013

2 years ago a Tamil refugee died in Villawood IDC : (28/10/2013)

Today, a Tamil refugee attempted to hang himself in a Melbourne immigration detention (MITA) after being detained indefintiely for nearly 4 years.  It is two years after the death of “S”, another Tamil refugee in Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney who was detained for over 2 years.

There have been hundreds of incidents of self-harm in Australia’s vast immigration detention network that holds mostly refugees and asylum seekers, under both the Labor party and the liberal party, but mandatory and indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers remains legal.  Only the Australian Minister of immigration has the discretionary power to release these men, women and children from detention.

This is a media release written by RISE two years ago about the death of ‘S’ in Villawood IDC:

10/27/11

Fourth Death in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre

RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees Media Release

In the early hours of the morning, on Wednesday 26th October 2011, RISE was given the tragic news that “S”, a 27 year old Sri Lankan Tamil refugee from Villawood Immigration Detention centre (IDC) in the suburbs of Sydney, killed himself after drinking poison.  

This day marked 2 years and 24 days of S’s mandatory and indefinite incarceration in Australia’s Immigration detention network.  It also marked “Deepavali” (The Festival of Light) that he, as a Hindu, wished to celebrate at his friend’s house.  The day before Deepavali, S received the news that his application to visit his friend’s house with SERCO escorts had been rejected by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.  SERCO officers had inspected the house sometime back and had indicated to his friend that they were satisfied with the layout of the house.

With limited access to legal and other welfare support services for asylum seekers and refugees this man was among many whose application for refugee status was rejected twice in Christmas island IDC after they arrived by boat to seek asylum.  S was finally accepted in August 2011 as a refugee, after the long struggle to get through the days in a non-transparent, hostile immigration detention environment including witnessing 3 deaths of  fellow detainees who committed suicide in the space of 3 months in Villawood IDC.

All 8 who protested on the roof with “S” were subsequently recognised as refugees, but now, just three have been released with a visa, while the rest are still being held indefinitely in detention.  One of these detainees is undergoing treatment for tuberculosis after repeated requests for medical treatment for more than a year.  All of these detained refugees, including S, applied for community detention.

At the time of his death, S was held in the “housing” area.  This is the same area in which a family (including 3 children) from the boat the Oceanic Viking are being held.  Like S, they too have been detained for more than 2 years.  Refugees with adverse security assessments held in other parts of Villawood IDC were informed on 25th October 2011, that they would be transferred to the housing area.  One of these men, refused to move, with the statement that this was nothing more than “housing arrest” and did nothing to solve the problem of being detained indefinitely without any offer of a durable solution in sight.  

Throughout his time in detention, S had been quite active in asserting his rights and questioning the actions of SERCO and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship that had kept him arbitrarily detained and moved haphazardly about Villawood IDC, particularly in the last 12 months of his incarceration. These actions included S’s detention in isolation as well as SERCO staff conveniently removing him and the family from the Oceanic Viking from their rooms when the Australian Human Rights Commission came to Villawood IDC to interview detainees in the “housing” area. This latter act was considerably suspect given that these two parties had been in detention much longer than the other detainees in the “housing” area.

Just after he got his refugee status, a RISE advocate took down some notes in the faint hope that S would have his visa and soon be able to access our settlement program.  He had years of work experience in Welding (including Gas cutting and X-ray welding) and had worked in the construction industry. Sadly, S’s hope to settle and start a new life in Australia will now never come to pass.

To quote a refugee from Villawood detention centre: “Detention in Australia is like tying a person’s hands and putting food in front of him, which he cannot eat; after some time he loses his appetite and he doesn’t feel like eating it anymore.  That is how we feel about life after we have been in detention.”

RISE call to action (15/10/2013)

Suicide Attempt yesterday (14/10/2013) in Melbourne immigration transit accommodation: Refugee, M47, a father and husband, separated from his family for more than 6 years, detained administratively in transition countries and now indefinitely detained in Australia for 4 years due to an adverse ASIO security assessment.

Why should he (and other refugees in his position) be free and given a protection visa by Scott Morrison?

*He has been recognised as a refugee by UNHCR when he was in transit countries and again when assessed by the Australian government and during this assessment it was also found that he had not committed any serious crime that should exclude him from being recognised as a refugee.

*ASIO assessment does NOT show him to be a risk within Australia, to the Australian community. The state (NOT Australia) that he poses a risk to has been accused to have committed crimes against humanity, and these allegations have been found to be credible by a UN expert panel and the panel have asked that an independent investigation be carried out. Unlike M47 all state actors accused of these crimes are free and hold influential positions and no independent investigation has been carried out. The state is Sri Lanka.

*Australia’s High court last year ruled that the ASIO assessment should not be used to prevent M47 from being granted a protection visa because the reasons for the ASIO security risk assessment does not fall within the criteria of risk assessment under the migration act.

*He and all the other refugees in detention with adverse assessments like him have never committed or been charged with a crime in Australia. ASIO’s assessment of all these refugees is predictive and therefore flawed, similar to assessments used by the ‘Department of pre-crime’ in the movie “Minority report”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbslm1h8xjI

*The Australian government by keeping all these refugees in prolonged and indefinite administrative detention without being charged and convicted through the court system, has been found guilty by the UN human rights committee of almost 150 violations of International law. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/australia-violated-refugees-human-rights-un-says-20130822-2sdxq.html

Also see RISE’s open letter to the Minister of immigration to which we never received a reply: http://tinyurl.com/n7hue63

PLEASE TAKE ACTION:

Contact Immigration Minister: Scott Morrison

Email:
minister@immi.gov.au

Twitter:
@ScottMorrisonMP (#refugees#freeM47)

Contact Prime Minister: Tony Abbott

Contact: Tony Abbott
Email: http://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TonyAbbottMP

Twitter:
@TonyAbbottMHR (#refugees#freeM47)

Your local MPs/Senators:
http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Guidelines_for_Contacting_Senators_and_Members