Refugee Action Collective (Vic)

2017 Media Releases

MEDIA RELEASE 16/01/18 | HUNGER STRIKE STARTS OVER IMMIGRATION DETENTION VISITS RESTRICTIONS

REFUGEE ACTION COALITION

MEDIA RELEASE

Over two hundred detainees at two detention centres, Villawood in Sydney and Maribynong in Melbourne, have declared a hunger strike in protest at visiting restrictions recently announced by Border Force. The detainees have been on hunger strike for more than 24 hours, since the morning of Monday 15 January.

Posters declaring the changes would apply after 22 January went up unannounced in the centres, last week. Detainees only found out about the policy when told by their visitors.

Under the restrictions, visitors will have to give five days’ notice of any visit, fill in a five-page form, with actual visits will be restricted to one on one. Visitors will also be required to have 100 points of ID when they attend the detention centre to visit.

The restrictions will hit families especially hard. Visiting minors will also now need identification.

These restrictions come on top of recent moves by Border Force to restrict what food can be brought into the detention centre and the attempt to ban mobile phones.

The moves, dressed up as security measures have nothing to do with security and everything to do with moves to militarise the detention centres under the control of Border Force, and their black-shirted officers. They go hand in hand with measures to routinely handcuff anyone taken to appointments outside the detention centres.

Under the announced changes, there will also be restrictions on the amount of property that is allowable for any detainee.

The changes are similar to changes that were announced in September last year but which were substantially withdrawn after protests at the time.  Both the attempt to ban mobile phones and food are the subject of legal action taken on behalf of detainees against Border Force. Detainees are angry that the changes have been declared without any prior consultation with detainees or visitors.

A letter drafted by the detainees was delivered to Border Force officials yesterday. It is understood that Border Force officials will meet with detainees’ representatives today (Tuesday) to formally announce the new policy.

“There is no justification for the visiting restrictions. They are unacceptable, and should be dropped,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “By imposing such draconian terms on visits, it looks like Border Force is trying to deter visiting to detention all together and make conditions in detention even more intolerable.

“There old visiting arrangements have been in place for many years. There is no new security issue that has emerged to justify these measures. The militarisation of the detention centres is the inevitable outcome of the government’s scare-mongering over border security.

“The government should be ending mandatory detention to allow asylum seekers to live in the community while their claims are being processed. And the increased use of 501 visa cancellation is turning detention centres into extensions of the prison system.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

MEDIA RELEASE 28/12 | MANUS ASYLUM SEEKERS EXPEL EX-WILSON GUARDS FROM HILLSIDE CAMP

Refugee Action Coalition

MEDIA RELEASE

MANUS ASYLUM SEEKERS EXPEL EX-WILSON GUARDS FROM HILLSIDE CAMP

Asylum seekers at the Hillside Camp, Manus Island have expelled all ex-Wilson Security guards from their camp area.

Former Wilson’s guards, who used to work at the detention centre, are now employed by Paladin, the company contracted to provide security for the new camps, since asylum seekers and refugees were forcibly evicted from the Lombrum detention centre.

But the Wilson guards are also among those who brutalised the asylum seekers and refugees during the 24 days of siege of the detention centre, when food, water and power was cut off.

Twice, yesterday (Wednesday, 27 December) afternoon, ex-Wilson guards turned up at Hillside. The first two left after being confronted. Later, that afternoon, when four ex Wilson guards turned up, all the Hillside detainees turned out to run them out of the camp.

“We have told them that they are not allowed to work at Hillside. We do not need them; we do not want them. All our security is local now. We don’t want the Australians who mistreated us in the detention centre. For four and half years, they tortured us,” one of the Hillside asylum seekers told the Refugee Action Coalition.

 

Around eight local police, accompanied by Paladin boss, Paul Hunt (photo attached) later came to the camp.

“We told them that any Wilson’s guys come here, they will be run out. It is as simple as that. If they want trouble bring the Wilson’s guards; if they don’t want trouble keep them away. We won’t let them work here,” the asylum seeker said.

The police and Paladin managers left the camp, without incident.

Paladin bosses have requested more discussions, but no ex Wilson’s guards have approached the camp, today (Thursday) .

 

The stand at Hillside comes only days after local leaders blockaded the East Lorengau camp in a dispute over local contracts for detention services on the island.

The clash with Wilson’s also comes after a protest in Port Moresby on 22 December, when refugees and asylum seekers again requested that they be paid their weekly allowance that has been withheld for months.

When confronted at their office in the motel, with demands that they pay the allowance or leave the motel; the Wilson guards left the motel.

Meanwhile the protests for a “safe, third country” also continue; with yesterday (Wednesday) protest being was the 147th day of protest on Manus. (Photo of East Lorengau protest attached.)

The lack of medical facilities for asylum seekers and refugees also continues to take its toll.  An Iranian asylum seeker was medically evacuated from Port Moresby to Australia, on Wednesday 27 December.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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MEDIA RELEASE 15/12 | PNG SUPREME COURT RULES MAJOR VICTORY TO MANUS ASYLUM SEEKERS

Refugee Action Coalition

MEDIA RELEASE

 PNG SUPREME COURT RULES MAJOR VICTORY TO MANUS ASYLUM SEEKERS

 The full bench of the PNG Supreme Court today (Friday) finally handed a ruling formally finding that the human rights of all those sent to Manus Island have been breached.

 The victory comes after almost two years of deliberate attempts by the Australian and PNG governments to stall and frustrate the case.

 The finding opens the way to a major compensation and also for consequential orders against both the PNG and Australian governments. Asylum seekers who missed out on compensation from the Salter and Gordon case will be eligible for payment for the breaches of their human rights.

 It is understood that the Australian government has undertaken to pay any costs and compensation arising from the case.

 “It is a major legal victory for the asylum seekers on Manus Island. Summary judgement and consequential orders are expected to follow today’s ruling in a February 2018 hearing of the Supreme Court. It goes beyond the Salter and Gordon case by providing a legal ruling that the asylum seekers were unlawfully detained. This will cost the Australian government, politically and financially,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

 “At the February hearing, the PNG lawyers will be seeking orders that the Australian and PNG government provide a safe, third country for the asylum seekers unlawfully sent to Manus Island.”

 In a separate (but related) application by Kurdish refugee Behrouz Boochani, the Supreme Court has set down a hearing on 5 February to consider the substantive issues of human rights breaches involved in the siege of, and forced eviction from, the Manus detention centre at Lombrum.

 “As suggested by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the PNG lawyers will be seeking damages for the human rights breaches associated with the eviction from Lombrum and the on-going beaches associated with the inadequate and inhuman conditions of the three detention areas on Manus,” said Rintoul.

 “Today’s finding is a belated legal ruling of what we all knew – and was established in the Namah case in April 2016 – that the agreement between PNG and Australia was unlawful and that the asylum seekers were illegally held there.

 “Now the government can no loner hide behind the lie that the Manus asylum seekers and refugees are PNG’s responsibility. The government must provide a safe third country to all the asylum seeker and refugees and brings all those who want to come, to Australia .”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713