MEDIA RELEASE 30/5 | CHRISTMAS ISLAND ROOFTOP PROTEST ENDS AFTER FOUR DAYS

The defiant rooftop protest on the Green 1 compound of the Christmas Island detention centre ended yesterday evening around 6.30pm (Christmas Island time, Tuesday 29 May) a few hours into the fifth day of protest.

The two Iranian asylum seekers came down from the roof and are now being held in the punishment compound, White 1.

Earlier yesterday scuffles had broken out in Green 2 as Serco Emergency Response Team guards increased their efforts to physically prevent stop asylum seekers in that compound getting water and other supplies, including medications, to the protesters.

Serco guards arrested one asylum seeker from Green 2 and took him to White 1. Other detainees in Green 2 had made it clear to the guards that they would keep supplying the roof-top protesters.

A few hours after the arrest in Green 2, the two Iranians came off the roof. One of the protesters, Ali (not his real name) told the Refugee Action Coalition, “ We did not want other guys being punished for our protest. They [the guards] harrassed them too many times. I did not want them to go punishment.”

The protest had brought more attention on the conditions on Christmas Island, the Devil’s Island of the Australia’s detention regime.

Ali has been in detention for six years. “My family is broken up. Christmas Island has made me a junky,” he said, “No-one is normal in here. Everyone has mental problem. Even the guards are not normal people.”

The second protester, Ghazi (not his real name), told the Refugee Action Coalition, “We are all very tired. I have been in detention over three years. There are no good doctors. They just play with us. For everything, they give us Panadol. There are no mental health doctors.

“When people are in jail, they are relaxed – they know, one year, two years…they get out. Here you don’t know….Next week? Next month?”

“There is no excuse for the long-term detention that is being inflicted on the guys in Christmas Island,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “It is a form of extra-judicial punishment that is not reviewable by the courts. They are held in worse conditions than a prison and for no crime.

“Christmas Island is the crime. It should be closed, and the detainees released.”

For more information contact:  Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.

MEDIA RELEASE 28/5 | CHRISTMAS ISLAND ROOFTOP PROTEST INTO ITS THIRD DAY

The defiant rooftop protest on the Green 1 compound of the Christmas Island detention centre has entered its third day.

This morning (Monday 28 May) Australian Federal Police officers threatened the protesters that they would be charged unless they came down, but refused to say what they could be charged with.

Asylum seekers in adjacent compounds who have managed to get food, water and blankets to the protesters have also been threatened that anyone who assists the protesters with food will be taken to the punishment compounds, White 1 or Red, which includes solitary confinement cells.

But asylum seekers have shrugged off the threats saying, “The police will have to take the whole compound to punishment.”

The two Iranians are very long term detainees. One of them, Ali (not his real name), was visited by refugee advocates, including, Pamela Curr (contact number below, for comment) in August 2016. In March this year letters of support offering housing and assistance, were sent to the Immigration Department in support of Ali being granted release with a bridging visa.

The protest has become a flashpoint for the whole of the detention centre because so many of the detainees are in a similar situation  – long term detainees held in Christmas Island, cut off from communities and legal help.  Many have injuries, including broken bones, from beatings they have suffered at the hands of the guards.

“They are protesting for all of us,” one asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition.

“We are calling for the immediate release of the detainees on Christmas Island. There is no excuse for long-term detention. The detention centres are factories of mental illness; and Christmas Island is the worst,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“We also want an undertaking from the Minister that there will be no victimisation of, or recriminations against, the protesters or anyone else involved in the protest.

For more information contact: Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713;

                                           Pamela Curr (who met “Ali” in 2016) :  0417 517 075

MEDIA RELEASE 27/5 | ROOFTOP PROTEST CONTINUES ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND

Two Iranian asylum seekers have spent a second night on the roof of the Green 1 compound inside the Christmas Island detention centre. (The protest began around 2.30 on Friday 25 May.)

Despite the mobilisation of the Emergency Respond Team, the two protesters have managed to get some food and blankets to sustain the protest.

The two protesters are long-term detainees, having been held in detention for over four years, one of them for six years.

The protest is a severe embarrassment to the government and Serco who run the Christmas Island detention centre with ruthless ‘behavioural management” methods in the most punitive centre of the government’s onshore detention regime.

“We are calling on the government to release the two asylum seekers and close Christmas Island,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, “There is no excuse for holding people in detention for such long periods – times that are the equivalent of a prison sentence for a serious crime.

“We also want an undertaking that the two protesters will not be punished or held in solitary confinement; they have a right to peaceful protest.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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