ASIO negative refugee attempts suicide at Villawood

November 8, 2012

The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released the statement below on November 8.

* * *

An ASIO negative Tamil refugee attempted to hang himself at the Villawood detention centre overnight. The man has been in detention for over three years.

He was taken to the emergency department at Liverpool hospital and has now been admitted to the hospital.

Despite the finding of the High Court in early October that refugees cannot be denied a protection visa because of a negative ASIO assessment, there has been no obvious progress either in their protection visa applications or in finding alternatives to their indefinite detention.

The refugee had grown increasing concerned at the treatment of his brother who is also in detention. A hand written letter given to his case officer three days ago, warned of his concern at his helplessness, frustration and despair at the inability of the Immigration Department to provide proper treatment for his brother.

“I am hoping that you can provide the right solution for the mental frustration I and my family members are feeling ... These circumstances have resulted in me not being able to sleep, not able to eat or do any activities.

“As a brother and as a son, I have been forced to not provide the care I should. Australia has given me a controlled life within a locked area … My brother is not being given proper medication or care. Under the circumstances, if I am able to give my life in order to get him medical care, I will do that in the near future.”

Friends and advocates are shocked that such a tragedy has been allowed to happen.

“This is a tragedy that should never have happened,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition. “This is bureaucratic inertia and bloody-mindedness of the worst kind. They have trashed any idea of duty of care to those that are detained. The department has allowed this catastrophic situation to develop because detention is their first and last resort.

“To have been warned, as they have been, and to do nothing in these circumstances is criminal.

“The unjust and prolonged detention has taken a huge toll on the ASIO negative refugees. The hope of October has given way to despair as the department seems excruciatingly slow in responding not just the visa claims but to an urgent humanitarian crisis. It is time to free the ASIO negative refugees.”

[For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.]

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