Protest condemns mandatory detention & new Wickham point refugee prison

Photo: Peter Robson.

In the wake of acts of self-harm and protests by detained refugees, people in Darwin gathered to show their support for a more humane refugee solution.

Twenty people rallied outside the offices of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) on October 26 to call for and end to mandatory detention and oppose the proposed new detention centre at Wickham Point.

The proposed Wickham Point detention centre would house up to 1500 asylum seekers for processing. The site was previously earmarked for housing for workers in the gas industry. This was stopped when the level of mosquito and midge infestation was deemed too high for human habitation.

On September 3, Michael Bowden from the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support And Advocacy Network (DASSAN) described the Wickham Point proposal as "inhumane and amoral."

In the past week, several Rohingyan and Burmese refugees have staged rooftop protests and hunger strikes. Most of these people have been found to be legitimate refugees but have waited for ASIO security clearances for up to two years.

The rally at DIAC was organised by DASSAN and featured Doctor Peter Morris from the NT branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

Morris said that the AMA believed that mandatory detention of asylum seekers had profound mental health consequences and should be replaced with a community-based scheme.

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