The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) released documents exposing the “appalling” extent of child self-harm in a Darwin detention centre on February 18. DASSAN obtained the documents via a Freedom of Information request, which took the department of immigration more than nine months to release. They detail 26 cases of self-harm by detained refugees aged 9 to 17 between August 2010 and November 2011. Spokesperson Fernanda Dahlstrom said the documents “concern one detention centre over a relatively short period of time”.
A possible malaria scare in the Manus Island refugee detention camp has sparked new calls to label the offshore detention regime a violation of human rights. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said on January 27 that a 10-year-old girl had been in the camp's medical centre with malaria-like symptoms — high fever, shivering and bodily pain.
A group of women asylum seekers share their reasons for seeking protection from Australia and their dismay and despair at being transferred to Manus Island. Their letters are reprinted below unedited. *** Letter 1 I am a 33 years old Iranian woman and I have a son, nine years old. We had to leave Iran because of the personal hardship that I experienced there.
A Tamil refugee living in Australia on a bridging visa died in a Fremantle hospital on January 5 from suicide. He had a wife and young daughter still in Sri Lanka, and was waiting for an outcome on his refugee status. It was his second suicide attempt. Refugee advocates in Perth said he had been tortured in Sri Lanka and his mental health deteriorated while in detention on Christmas Island and in the remote north Queensland Scherger base — where he first attempted suicide.
Britain is a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. But despite its international legal obligations as signatory to this and other human rights conventions, the reception granted to those knocking on Britain’s door in hope of protection is far from welcoming or humane. In fact, Britain appears to be doing everything in its power to keep its doors tightly closed to those often referred to as “scroungers,” “terrorists,” “economic migrants,” or other “bogus” refugees hiding behind a smokescreen of asylum ― adding deadbolts by the day.
Labor is making a full-scale assault on the right of refugees to seek protection, as it continues to fill the Nauru detention camp, forcibly deport hundreds back to Sri Lanka before hearing their claims for asylum and keep thousands in perpetual limbo in the name of “deterrence”. Now, the federal government has revealed its plans for the almost 8000 people that have arrived seeking asylum by boat in recent months. The plan is worse than the extreme temporary protection visas introduced by the former John Howard Government.
An action was organised by the Refugee Action Coalition on November 23 to protest the re-opening of the Australian immigration detention camps in Manus Is (PNG) and Nauru. It was held outside the office of Tanya Plibersek, the federal minister for health, in Sydney. A letter of protest was delivered at the end of the action. Photos by Peter Boyle.
This month is the start of the wet season on the tiny island of Nauru, where more than 370 refugees are being detained in Australian army tents that leak and do nothing to keep mosquitoes out. In these appalling conditions, more than 300 men are refusing food and some are refusing water in a bid to have the department of immigration hear their claims for asylum. That’s right — people that came to Australia exercising their legal and moral right to seek protection are on a hunger strike because the Australian government has decided to make an example of them.
The refugees now holding an indefinite hunger strike in the Nauru detention camp released the statement below on November 2, updating the situation and explaining that several have been taken to the medical room and some have lost conciousness. The first refugees began refusing food on the morning of November 1, and others quickly joined. *** Date:02/11/2012 Time:11:00 pm Fifteen Asylum seekers became unconscious on second day of Hunger Strike in Nauru Hell. Till 7 asylum seekers have been become unconscious and taken to the medical rooms.
The following “Appeal of asylum seekers” was released by refugees on Nauru on October 31. It was addressed to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australian MPs, the Nauru government, human rights commissions and the “rest of the world”. The men said on November 1 that they would begin a group hunger strike "for unknown time". "This is a clear message that we are not happy here, we want to go back from this Hell to Australia and we request to the Australia government to start our processing." ***