More than 100 asylum seekers in detention on Manus Island have signed an appeal to Europeans for help. They say that just like the asylum seekers in Europe, they have fled war and persecution and like them they need safety and resettlement. They request European countries “to urge the Australia government to cease the illegal detention of us…” Almost 1000 refugees and asylum seekers are indefinitely detained on Manus Island and a similar number, including families with children, are on Nauru.
Tamil refugee Ranjini and her two sons made headlines last May when they were taken without warning to Sydney's Villawood detention centre and locked up after Ranjini was labelled an ASIO “security risk”. The very next day, 33-year-old Ranjini learned she was pregnant. She gave birth to Paartheepan (Paari) on January 15. The newborn boy has the right to live outside detention with his father, Ganesh, who married Ranjini a year before she was detained and lives nearby in Sydney.
This year is the 15th anniversary of the Nargar Kovil school massacre in Tamil Eelam, the Tamil area of Sri Lanka. On September 22, 1995, the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) bombed Nargar Kovil Maha Vidyalayam schoolyard, which was crammed with 750 children on their lunch break. Reports of the number of children killed vary from 26 to 70. Twelve of the children killed were six or seven years old. One hundred and fifty were injured, including 40 seriously. Twenty-two children had their limbs amputated. Ten of the amputees were under 12.
Seven refugee rights activists were forced out of Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on October 4. Two days later, another refugee advocate, Rosalie Scolari, was banned from Maribyrnong detention centre in Melbourne. Private prisons operator Serco runs both detention centres. Scolari was trying to visit gay Tamil detainee Leela Krishna, who was recently moved from Villawood to Maribyrnong. He has spent more than 12 months imprisoned and a community campaign has called for his immediate release.
During recent protests in Villawood Detention Centre that followed the September 20 suicide of detained Fijian exile Josefa Rauluni, detainees who tried to help rooftop protesters with water and blankets were stopped by security. One man was bashed.
It has been a dramatic week at Villawood detention centre, with a suicide sparking off a spate of rooftop protests. These events highlight the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and the need to get rid of mandatory detention. A September 24 Crikey.com.au article revealed: “Up to 27 deaths have occurred in immigration custody since 2000.”
The statement below was released by the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition on September 20. VILLAWOOD IN CHAOS AFTER SUICIDE AS HUNGER STRIKES AND PROTESTS CONTINUE The suicide of a Fijian man facing deportation from the Villawood detention centre this morning has thrown the detention centre into chaos. The Fijian man died after throwing himself from the roof of a building in stage 2 of the detention centre.
On September 15, Leela Krishna, a Tamil refugee in Villawood Detention Centre, was removed to Melbourne's Maribyrnong Detention Centre. Supporters of Leela protested and leafleted Sydney Airport's domestic terminal on the day. Despite being recognised as a refugee by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in April, Leela is still being imprisoned while ASIO conducts “security checks”. A gay man, he has experienced sexual harassment, bullying and physical assault in detention and has attempted suicide several of times.
On August 23, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) reported that a 30-year-old man found unconscious in the Curtin Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia had died. After his collapse on August 21, the man was taken to Derby hospital, 40 kilometres away. That night, he was transferred to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth, more than 2000km south of Derby. He died the next day. DIAC would not tell Green Left Weekly the man’s name, but said it didn’t believe there were suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. A Coronial inquiry
Socialist Alliance media release: "The six asylum seekers that are still at large after escaping from Villawood Detention Centre are in the right place---out of the Villawood hell-hole, and in the community where they belong," Duncan Roden, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Parramatta, said today. Fijian-born Roden visited Villawood Detention Centre two days ago, along with 17 refugee rights activists to examine conditions.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the Villawood detention centre. Most of what I knew came from mainstream media, which usually ignores a particular perspective: that of the refugees themselves. “Queue-jumpers”, “expensive”, “unwelcome”, “should be sent back” are common themes. This rhetoric reduces asylum seekers and their experiences to nothing more than blood-sucking parasites looking for a warm place to nestle. “Boat people” make up only 3% of all refugees coming to Australia. The rest arrive in planes. Where’s all the hype about “plane people”?