The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released the statement below on October 25.
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The Refugee Action Coalition is calling a protest outside the Sydney offices of the Immigration Department, 26 Lee Street, 12.30pm, Wednesday 26 October. Speakers at the protest will include Dr Michael Dudley, chair of Suicide Prevention Australia.
The protest will be calling for the immigration minister to end offshore processing and to immediately begin releasing asylum seekers from detention so their claims can be processed while they live and work in the community. It will also be supporting the Darwin detention rooftop protest by a Rohingyan refugee who has been two years in detention.
The horrific scenes of reality inside Australian detention centres revealed by Four Corners (archived by Internet Archive 22/10/2011) on Monday night revealed something of the shocking toll that mandatory detention is taking on the lives of asylum seekers and refugees.
The shocking rates of self-harm, attempted suicide and the abuse of prescribed medication is a direct consequence of deliberate bureaucratic delays associated with mandatory detention and continued off-shore processing.
“Over two thousand asylum seekers and refugees have been locked in detention for over a year. The flawed off-shore processing arrangements are wrongly denying refugee claims and are keeping asylum seekers in detention for months waiting for appeals are being heard. Around 1500 refugees are being held waiting for ASIO security checks,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“Mandatory detention is not a deterrent — it is a form of mental torture and collective punishment. Around 1000 people have been shifted into community detention over the past few months, but more thousands still languish in detention.
“There can be no more excuses. The Minister has admitted that he has the power to use community detention and bridging visas to get people out of immigration detention, but he is sitting on his hands. Curtin can be closed now.
“Talk is cheap. Every day that the Minister delays community processing is another day that the blame for every instance of self-harm and attempted suicide lies at the feet of Chris Bowen.”