Full inquiry into detention deaths needed

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on June 21.

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Asylum seekers are angry and upset at the death of an Afghan asylum seeker in the Villawood detention centre on June 20.

According to witnesses inside the detention centre, Serco guards left the man, named Ali, on the ground for almost an hour before calling an ambulance.

He was taken from the centre around 7.30pm and died later that night.

“There is every reason to believe that Ali would still be alive, if Serco guards had responded immediately to the first signs that he was in distress,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC).

“Guards ignored his initial calls for help, and it was left to other detainees to appeal to the guards to call an ambulance.”

One distressed asylum seeker called to the RAC last night saying, “They have killed Ali.”

“The Refugee Action Coalition is demanding a full inquiry into Ali’s death and the allegations that he was left unattended. If Ali’s obvious medical distress was ignored, his death is a version of industrial manslaughter, or worse. No-one who knew Ali was aware of any pre-existing heart condition,” said Rintoul.

“Ali should never have been in detention. He was in community detention and brought back into detention around September last year on false claims that he had been convicted of an offence in Britain. Even when a police clearance was obtained from Britain in May this year, the immigration department refused to act on it and release him.”

“The detention regime fosters an institutional indifference to asylum seekers –an indifference that may well be responsible for Ali’s death. Ali’s death is one more reason to end mandatory detention and the inhuman treatment that is part and parcel of that regime.”