Activists oppose new refugee detention centre

April 17, 2011
Victoria Martin-Iverson. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

Activists in Hobart have condemned the federal government’s plan to imprison 400 men in a new refugee detention centre in Pontville, Tasmania.

Instead, the activists said, the government should use community-based processing and settlement alternatives that respect human rights.

The activists said they were pleased to hear there are plans to house women and children in the community, but said the government should also treat the 400 men who will be imprisoned at Pontville in the same way.

“We want to welcome refugees into the state and into our communities, not see them locked up behind barbed wire,” said Jenny Forward, Socialist Alliance’s refugee spokesperson.

“Mandatory detention is inhumane and breaches fundamental human rights. The treatment of asylum seekers in this country has been shameful and we do not want our state to continue this legacy.

“The detention process has resulted in the intensification of trauma and irreparable mental health issues.”

The suicide of Mohammed Asif Atay in Curtin detention centre on March 28 was the sixth known refugee to die in detention in the past seven months.

Victoria Martin-Iverson from the Refugee Rights Action Network in Perth said she was told there was a suicide attempt every day at the Christmas Island detention centre.

Refugee rights advocates will be holding protests outside the Curtin, Villawood and Maribyrnong detention centres over the Easter weekend to call for an end to mandatory detention.


No one should be allowed into the community until their background and identity is established. People who come by plane have to have identity checked - otherwise they can't even get onto the plane. No release until identity and security checks are conducted. Thats why most Australians support the current policies.
@'Ughhh..again?': Ughhh, yet Australia is the only country with mandatory detention where adults and children are locked up for at least two years, or longer and often undetermined amounts of time, and it doesn't seem to work any better than the systems of other countries. In fact, it psychologically messes people up and gives Australia a bad reputation. A five-year-old is not lacking in documents because he/she is a terrorist or another shady character...the lack of documents is because they've made a desperate escape from war and oppression and there's not much room for organising legal documents. And what other legal process can you think of that takes at least two years to be completed? The system doesn't work well at all. Instead of doing anything productive, the Government just freaks out because of the "big" numbers (actually really small compared to many other countries) and put on things like visa freezes. Also, judging by many of the recent comments I've heard about asylum seekers, many Australians don't support the system because it is supposedly a necessary legal process to eventually accept refugees, but rather they support mandatory detention because they see the so called "illegal immigrants" as bad and dangerous people. You can't rationalise something based on fear and prejudice, not to mention based on false ideas like asylum seekers being illegal immigrants when seeking asylum is perfectly legal.

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