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    A guard puts his boot on a detainee at the Curtin detention centre

Rudd re-opens Derby's Curtin detention hell

With an election looming, Kevin Rudd becomes Howard-lite and his henchman all at once

Photos on this page: images of the Curtin detention centre around 2001 - supplied by advocates (top photo: click for larger version)

Temperatures that can climb to 44 degrees Celsius. Guards that treat refugees with violence and disdain, telling them they're illegals who will never make it into 'Australia proper'.

Immigration officers who crumple up your formal request for medical or other assistance (after you've just written it out by completing an Australian Immigration Department form) before throwing the form in the rubbish bin while you're not looking. (one report here)

When you arrive, you're subject to a selection process of immense cruelty, composed of made-up criteria: an ad-hoc "pre-screening" process, that may see you herded into a compound for 11 months, without access to telephones, television, radio, lawyers or legal advice or visiting friends.

That's a small collection of things that took place in the Curtin Immigration Centre when it was last open for business, around the turn of the century.

In April 2010, while this year's Federal election looms larger every day, the Rudd government has decided to start using that horror centre again - for single male asylum seekers, and those who fall within the category of "do not process" - a result of the recent, equally cruel, changes as announced. For more about these changes, follow the related page links below.

Complaints Report: the first Curtin period

In 2005, years after the disgusting treatment in the Curtin detention centre took place, some refugees had their formal complaint - initially raised in 2002, followed by endless obfuscation from the Immigration Department - finally fully and publicly reported by the Australian Human Rights Commission. Below is the report's summary. See the full report here.

"The complainants allege that following their initial immigration interviews with officers of DIMIA they were held in closed camps at the Curtin IRPC for unjustifiably long periods of time and in two cases for nine months. They claim that while in separation detention they were not allowed to have any contact with the world outside of the closed camps in which they were held. In particular, they state that they were not allowed to contact their families in their country of origin.

"The complainants allege that they were not able to communicate with detainees who were being held in other parts of the Curtin IRPC. In particular, Mr C2 alleges that during the seven months that he was held in the closed camps he was not allowed to communicate with his brother who was being held in another part of the Curtin IRPC.

"The complainants state that there they were not allowed to use the telephone and there was no telephone in the closed camp. They state that they were not permitted to write or send letters. They further state that while in the closed camps they could not listen to the radio, watch television or read the newspaper. They claim that they were not provided with any recreational, educational or welfare facilities.

"Mr C1 claims that while he was held in the closed camp he completed a request form to see a priest as he wanted to be baptised and become a Christian. Mr C1 claims that his request was not facilitated and he was not allowed to see a priest and change his religion.

What's on this page

This page brings together some of the news coverag about the re-opening of the Curtin detention centre - the announcement in April 2010, and some of the immediate reaction around Australia, and the shock this announcement brought amongst advocates as well as refugees who were formerly detained at Curtin detention centre, who remember what things were like when it was first used during the Howard government.

Related pages

18 April 2010: World Outrage about Kevin Rudd's Big Asylum Freeze - From psychiatrist Jon Juredini to Malcolm Fraser, from human rights lawyer Greg Barns to Andrew Bartlett, outrage swelled fast around Kevin Rudd's processing freeze of Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers. The anger did not stop just there, it went international within a week.

17 April 2010: Labor compassion and decency freezes over in Election Hell - Some had expected it sooner, but finally Labor has buckled under the weight of the attack dogs. In a joint and televised joint press conference by Stephen Smith (Foreign Affairs), Chris Evans (Immigration) and Brendan O'Connor (Home Affairs) - a sad affair where they resembled The Three Stooges - they announced Canberra's Big Freeze.

Quick links:

Click the links below to jump down to the articles and items on this page with the same title.

Curtin 'hellhole' to be reopened

Amanda O'Brien and Jodie Minus
The Australian
April 19, 2010 12:00AM

Refugee advocates are predicting a return to riots and lip-stitching after the federal government's shock decision to reopen the notorious Curtin detention centre in Western Australia.

The remote facility in the Kimberley will house hundreds of Afghan and Sri Lankan men whose applications for refugee status have been suspended for six months and three months respectively. The first residents could be there in weeks.

Advocates yesterday were appalled by the decision.

"Curtin was a torture centre under the Howard government. We are unbelievably nervous today," Perth-based advocate Jack Smit said.

When it shut in 2002, Curtin's chequered past included a string of riots, self-harm, assaults, fires and even a mass escape.

There were allegations of severe bullying by staff and evidence some detainees were kept in darkened isolation rooms. Adults and children sewed their lips together in protest.

Mr Smit, from Project SafeCom, said reopening it for people whose applications weren't even being progressed was a recipe for trouble and "gravely in breach of human rights law".

"It raises the notion of rejects being bundled together -- and Derby happens to be the hellhole of all detention centres where torture and abuse happened, as found by the Human Rights Commission," he said.

After visiting Curtin in 2000, the then human rights commissioner Chris Sidoti and Sydney University law lecturer Mary Crock said aspects resembled a concentration camp.

Located 40km from Derby, where temperatures in summer average a sizzling 42C, it is more than 2000km north of Perth.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the isolation was one of the reasons it was ideal. Pamela Curr from the Asylum-Seeker Resource Centre said it also made it impossible to monitor.

"This is a tragedy. We remember Curtin last time, and even with a different government and a different service provider, it will still be 28 hours from Perth and about as isolated as you can get," she said.

"They could have chosen Darwin, but they have deliberately chosen the most isolated, the most rundown and the most horrible place in Australia. That a Labor government would do that is shocking."

The decision to reopen was welcomed by the Derby-East Kimberley Shire, which expects a multi-million-dollar windfall in local jobs and business.

"We support it, so long as there's something in it for the community, so long as the community gets some work and business from it," Shire President Elsia Archer said.

Ms Archer once worked at Curtin selling toothpaste, deodorants and lollies to detainees and said frustration and poor communication caused much of the trouble: "Just imagine yourself if you're locked up forever and you don't know what's happening or when you'll get out. That was happening to a lot of them and it creates mayhem."

But she believed lessons had been learned and it would be better this time.

Derby Small Business Centre manager Ross Sullivan said it would provide opportunities in catering, laundry trades, accommodation and hospitality.

A former Curtin detainee, who did not want to be named, said he was still traumatised by his six-month stay at the centre in 2002. "The food was really horrible and from compound to compound they make different rules. The families get treated differently and there was no proper medical service ... and that makes people more sick," he said. "The one thing we see every day is the sky."

Ramesh Fernandez, founder of the Rise network for refugees and ex-detainees, said Curtin was one of the worst centres.

"That it's reopening is the last thing I want to hear."

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/.../curtin-hellhole-to-be-reopened/story-e6frg6nf-1225855204463

Curtin Air Base to hold asylum seekers

Cortlan Bennett
AAP / The Age
April 18, 2010 - 12:44PM

The federal government will re-open a detention facility at WA's Curtin Air Base to house Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers whose applications for refugee status have been suspended.

Federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans on Sunday said the base, 40km southeast of Derby in Western Australia's far north, would be readied immediately for the transfer of about 60 detained single men.

"As a result of (last week's decision to suspend) applications for asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, we'll be opening a new immigration facility at the Curtin Air Base," Senator Evans told reporters in Perth.

"Previously, it's been used for this purpose and initially we'll be upgrading the facility to accommodate that cohort of persons who have had their asylum claims suspended.

"We need to find an appropriate secure facility to deal with these asylum seekers.

"I expect the centre to be operational following completion of the initial upgrade."

Senator Evans said the first group of asylum seekers, who are subject to a three-month suspension for Sri Lankans and a six-month suspension for Afghans, would be moved from Christmas Island detention centre to Curtin as soon as the upgrades were finished.

Meanwhile, more asylum seekers would be moved off Christmas Island to other detention centres on the mainland to ease overcrowding at the northwest facility.

"We will be moving some single males on a positive pathway to the immigration centre in Darwin," Senator Evans said.

"We're also moving off the island a group of unaccompanied minors - they'll be going to the immigration facility at Port Augusta (South Australia)."

Senator Evans said "a couple of hundred or so" people would be moved off Christmas Island "in the next week or two".

Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers moved to Curtin would remain there until the current suspension of their claims was reviewed, according to Senator Evans, who did not rule out them being granted refugee status later.

Senator Evans said he did not know the final cost of expanding Curtin, but said it would be "considerable".

"We will have to invest considerably in the centre," he said.

Initially, Curtin would be able to hold 200-300 asylum seekers, Senator Evans said, and would open "within weeks, rather than months".

http://news.theage.com.au/.../curtin-air-base-to-hold-asylum-seekers-20100418-sm2i.html

A cell in one of the dongers at the Curtin detention centre
Escalation: a guard stands over one of the detainees in the dooropening of his cell

PM reopens Howard's toughest compound

Paul Maley and Paige Taylor
The Australian
April 19, 2010 12:00AM

Kevin Rudd has reopened one of the most controversial Howard-era detention centres, the Curtin facility in Western Australia, in an attempt to send a clear signal to prospective asylum-seekers that Australia is toughening up its refugee policies.

A total of 130 asylum-seekers will also be flown off Christmas Island after Immigration Minister Chris Evans announced a mass spill to the Australian mainland.

Of these, 60 single male detainees will be flown to the Darwin detention centre, and a group of up to 70 unaccompanied minors moved to Port Augusta in South Australia.

Arriving by bus at the Christmas Island airport yesterday, some asylum-seekers appeared cheerful and one man said: "Good, good, good."

But another man held out his wrists as if handcuffed, and an asylum-seeker from Afghanistan said he believed Darwin was a jail for Indonesian crew and being sent there was a sign the government would not give him a visa.

However, the detainees' departure from Christmas Island was delayed when a technical problem prevented the plane from leaving.

On the mainland, howls of outrage from the opposition and refugee groups greeted Senator Evans's announcement that the government would reopen the centre at Curtin, described yesterday by former immigration minister Philip Ruddock as the most "primitive" facility used by the Howard government.

The centre, on an airbase near Derby in Western Australia's north, will be used to house Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum-seekers who are subject to the recent suspension of refugee claims.

"I think we'll see a couple of hundred or so people come off (Christmas Island) in the next week or two," said Senator Evans, whose announcement marks the government's decision to process, or spill, asylum-seekers in mainland detention centres.

This follows months of overcrowding on Christmas Island, which last night held 2358 detainees, well over its renovated capacity of 2040 and its designed capacity of 400.

Senator Evans said the Curtin centre would hold 200-300 single males. "I think it's important to understand we're already seeing an increase in refusal rates for asylum-seekers from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka," Senator Evans said. "People-smugglers are not able to assure people they will get a visa."

Those headed for detention in Darwin were on a "positive pathway", meaning they are likely to receive visas, Senator Evans said.

The minister would not say how much a planned upgrade of the Curtin facility would cost, but The Australian understands the bill is expected to run into the tens of millions of dollars, largely owing to its remote location.

The decision to use Curtin, the site of some of the most controversial practices during the Howard years, is an attempt by the Rudd government to send a message to prospective asylum-seekers that Australia is moving to toughen its stance.

It follows the decision last week to suspend all new Afghan asylum claims for six months, and all new Sri Lankan claims for three.

The spill represents a belated victory for Senator Evans, who for months has wanted to move asylum-seekers off Christmas Island.

The Australian understands the preference of the minister and the Immigration Department has effectively been blocked by the Prime Minister's office.

But with the number of detainees on Christmas Island increasing, and with no indication the flow of boats is likely to slow, the government had no choice but to authorise the spill.

Yesterday's decision was the latest in a series of moves by the government designed to nullify politically sensitive issues in the lead-up to the election, expected within the next six months.

Mr Ruddock said the decision to reopen Curtin proved the Rudd government had been overwhelmed by boat arrivals.

"I would argue that Curtin was easily the most remote and the most primitive in terms of accommodation, because you essentially just had demountables," Mr Ruddock said.

The Coalition's immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, also attacked the move.

"To reopen this facility is an absolute admission of the desperate situation this government has got to under its own policies," Mr Morrison said.

Yesterday, Senator Evans justified the decision on the grounds that Curtin was not in use.

The move drew a furious response from refugee groups.

Pamela Curr, of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, accused the government of trying to hide asylum-seekers from public view.

"(Curtin is) isolated, it has a history of brutality," Ms Curr said. "It's far from any form of monitoring. If this is what a Labor government would do under pressure, God help asylum-seekers if Abbott ever got into power."

Refugee Council president John Gibson endorsed the transfer of asylum-seekers to Darwin and Port Augusta, but condemned the decision to move people to Curtin.

"Curtin was one of the worst centres under the Howard government," Mr Gibson said.

Greens immigration and human rights spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said Curtin had in the past been described as "a living hellhole".

She said Mr Rudd was trying to win votes, but "the Australian public are smarter than that".

"Everything he's announced over the last couple of weeks harks back to the days which were discredited under the Howard government, where we detained vulnerable people in the middle of the desert, where we detained children behind barbed wire."

Among the men selected to go to Darwin yesterday was Rahim, from Iraq, who said he had been in detention on Christmas Island for four months.

"I don't have any decision about my future, I don't want to go to Darwin," he said.

"Please, please help me; I want to go on the outside. I don't want to be in jail."

On seeing a bus carrying asylum-seekers back to detention yesterday, one asylum-seeker panicked, thinking there was a problem with his visa claim.

He lay on the ground and had to be calmed by immigration officers, who took him to hospital.

Human rights activist Linda Briskman, who has visited detainees on the island this week, said Curtin was a concern to those who recalled the misery there.

"It's yet another extremely isolated location, and it's hard to know why it would be a place of choice," she said.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/.../pm-reopens...toughest-compound/story-e6frgczf-1225855233895

Curtin detention plan a 'chaotic policy'

ABC Online News
Posted Sun Apr 18, 2010 4:26pm AEST

The Federal Opposition has slammed the Government's announcement today to shift some asylum seekers from the overflowing Christmas Island detention centre to a defence base on the mainland.

The Government says it will soon transfer some Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum seekers to the Curtin air base, near Derby in Western Australia.

Those transferred will be single men who have had their refugee claims frozen under the Government's recent policy change.

Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the Government's latest policy announcement is an admission of failure.

"We now see a complete end to offshore processing in this country. There is no remnant of any of the Coalition's border protection regime that this Government inherited," he said.

"It has been completely rolled back and the chaos we see on Christmas Island, the transfer of people onto the mainland, the reopening of a facility at Curtin, near derby, which was closed for very good reasons, is now being reopened in an admission of a failure the Government continues to deny."

Mr Morrison says the asylum seeker situation is becoming chaotic.

"This is a further chapter in the chaos that has become Kevin Rudd's asylum seeker policy," he said.

"It is being made up on the run and as a result I think the Australian people will have every reason to be completely bamboozled by what has become an excuse for border protection policy under the Rudd Government."

The Immigration Department also says some young asylum seekers without parents or guardians will be transferred to Port Augusta in South Australia.

It is a significant change to Australia's immigration policies and a return to two controversial locations from previous years - Port Augusta and Curtin.

The Curtin facility, which once housed more than 1,000 asylum seekers, was decommissioned in 2002 after riots and reports of violence and detainee mistreatment.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans says the Government will start upgrading the Curtin air base to accommodate the detainees.

Mr Evans says security at the facility will be tight.

"It will be a secure facility and people would've had appropriate health, identity and security checks before being placed there," he said.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says she is worried about the conditions of the facilities at the Curtin air base.

"This is a dog's breakfast of an asylum seeker policy and nowhere in here is the heart of vulnerable people being thought about," she said.

"Where is the understanding of Australia's international obligations?"

A charter flight was set to leave Christmas Island today carrying 130 asylum seekers, however mechanical problems have delayed the departure.

When it leaves Christmas Island, the plane will take 70 mostly single men to the Darwin detention centre.

While 60 mostly unaccompanied minors will go to Port Augusta in South Australia.

The Government says they will be housed in community accommodation there, not in the Baxter detention centre.

But Sarah Hanson-Young says she is concerned about the Federal Government plan to send the unaccompanied minors Port Augusta.

She says it is a better option than Christmas Island but she does not trust that the Government has a plan to end the detention.

"We don't want to go back to a day where we indefinitely detain people - young people - and yet the Government, despite all their rhetoric, have broken their promise over and over again."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/18/2875891.htm

The hole in the wall of a cell - where the airconditioner should be mounted
Not a window: the hole in the wall, where an airconditioner should have been to battle with the blazing heat

Detention centre a 'living hell hole'

April 18, 2010 - 3:46PM
AAP / The Age

The federal government's decision to reopen the Curtin detention facility signals a change of policy and a return to the Howard-style approach of sending asylum seekers off to the desert indefinitely, the Greens say.

Greens Senator for South Australia and spokeswoman on immigration and human rights Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the Rudd government's recent asylum seeker decisions were "a dog's breakfast".

The decision announced earlier on Sunday, to send Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers whose applications for refugee status had been suspended for up to six months, to the remote facility that was closed in 2002 was "simply warehousing" vulnerable people, she said.

"I'm very concerned that this is just another part of policy-on-the-run from the Australian government," Senator Hanson-Young told journalists at her office in Adelaide on Sunday.

"The immigration policy, the refugee response from the government, is a dog's breakfast - it's one announcement after another without the real follow-through of any type of practical long-term or humane approach."

She said Curtin had in the past been described as "a living hell hole".

"I understand the minister is saying they'll need to spend considerable amounts of money to upgrade the facility and I guess that brings the question as to whether this is really a temporary response from the government," Senator Hanson-Young said.

"It seems fairly clear that the government is now putting in place the infrastructure to support their new indefinite detention policy.

"This is not a short-term fix for the government - this is a change of policy."

She believed Mr Rudd was trying to win votes but warned "the Australian public are smarter than that".

"Everything he's announced over the last couple of weeks harks straight back to the days which were discredited under the Howard government, where we detained vulnerable people in the middle of the desert, where we detained children behind barbed wire.

"This is a government who said they would work to dismantle that regime and now we see them implementing it themselves."

http://www.theage.com.au/national/detention-centre-a-living-hell-hole-20100418-sm8q.html

Curtin reopened for detention

The Age
Mark Davis
April 19, 2010

The Federal Government will reopen a mothballed immigration detention centre in remote north-western Australia to hold Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said yesterday the Curtin Air Force Base would be used to house asylum seekers affected by the decision to suspend processing of newly arrived Sri Lankans and Afghans for three and six months.

The base is about 40 kilometres south-west of Derby in Western Australia. The Howard government closed the detention centre there in 2005 following a riot.

But Senator Evans said yesterday it would be upgraded in coming weeks to provide accommodation for up to 300 single males.

"It makes sense for the government to manage this group of asylum seekers in one secure location and the Curtin facility is well placed to provide this accommodation," he said.

Criticism came immediately. The Refugee Council of Australia's chief executive, Paul Power, said the centre - in one of the country's most remote places - had been notorious. "This population of asylum seekers will include torture and trauma survivors and services for them will be nigh on impossible to deliver," Mr Power said.

"There is next to nothing there.Why on earth would you choose to reopen Curtin ... when there are more credible, humane and effective approaches?"

David Manne, director of the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre in Melbourne, said the move was a regression "to policies of the past which condemned asylum seekers to indefinite and inhumane remote incarceration on the mainland and to profound harm".

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the decision showed the Rudd government's border protection policies had failed.

Yesterday, an airplane's mechanical problems delayed plans to send about 70 asylum seekers from Christmas Island to Darwin and another 60 minors to Port Augusta.

Senator Evans said he instructed his department to ensure that appropriate services were available for asylum seekers whose claims were suspended from processing." We will not leave people isolated and we will invest in upgrading the facilities so they are suitable for this group."

http://www.theage.com.au/national/detention-centre-a-living-hell-hole-20100418-sm8q.html

PM repoens Howard's hellhole, Curtin Air Base detention centre

The Herald Sun
By Cortlan Bennett
AAP April 18, 2010

Refugee advocates are predicting a return to riots and lip-stitching over Kevin Rudd's shock decision to reopen the notorious Curtin detention centre in Western Australia.

The centre, which closed in 2002, after a string of riots, self-harm, assaults, fires and even a mass escape, will house hundreds of Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers whose applications for refugee status have been suspended.

The first residents could be there in weeks.

Advocates yesterday were appalled by the decision.

"Curtin was a torture centre under the Howard Government. We are unbelievably nervous today," Perth-based advocate Jack Smit said.

Federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the centre, which is 40km southeast of Derby in Western Australia's far north, would be prepared for the transfer of about 60 detained single men.

"Previously, it's been used for this purpose and initially we'll be upgrading the facility to accommodate that cohort of persons who have had their asylum claims suspended.

"We need to find an appropriate secure facility to deal with these asylum seekers.

Senator Evans said the first group of asylum seekers, who are subject to a three-month suspension for Sri Lankans and a six-month suspension for Afghans, would be moved from Christmas Island detention centre to Curtin as soon as the upgrades were finished.

Meanwhile, more asylum seekers would be moved off Christmas Island to other detention centres on the mainland to ease overcrowding at the northwest facility.

"We will be moving some single males on a positive pathway to the immigration centre in Darwin," Senator Evans said.

"We're also moving off the island a group of unaccompanied minors - they'll be going to the immigration facility at Port Augusta (in South Australia)."

Senator Evans said "a couple of hundred or so" people would be moved off Christmas Island "in the next week or two".

Senator Evans said he did not know the final cost of expanding Curtin, but said it would be "considerable".

"We will have to invest considerably in the centre," he said.

Initially, Curtin would be able to hold 200-300 asylum seekers, Senator Evans said, and would open "within weeks, rather than months".

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/.../curtin...detention-centre-to-reopen/story-e6frf7l6-1225855116412

UCA Media: No more land of the 'fair go' for asylum seekers

Uniting Church in Australia National Assembly
Media Release
19 April 2010

The Uniting Church in Australia has condemned the Australian Government's decision to house Afghani and Sri Lankan asylum seekers in the old Curtin detention centre.

Rev. Alistair Macrae, President of the Uniting Church said, "The decision to re-open Curtin detention facility is of grave concern. Detaining people indefinitely in the middle of the desert is inconsistent with a humane approach to the treatment of asylum seekers.

"Curtin is an entirely inappropriate and shameful place to be housing already vulnerable and traumatised people."

The Uniting Church has previously condemned the decision to suspend the processing of asylum seeker claims as a move back to mandatory indefinite detention - a breach of our international human rights obligations, Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director of UnitingJustice said, "We are extremely concerned about the physical and mental health of asylum seekers who will be detained in the desert for an indefinite period of time waiting in limbo for the Government to decide to assess their protection claims.

"This is not the policy of a Government committed to upholding human dignity.

"We know from past experience that in such conditions asylum seekers suffer increased levels of mental and physical illness. That this Government would deliberately place already vulnerable people into a situation they know causes harm is an abrogation of their responsibility to treat all people with dignity and care.

"The facilities at Curtin were always rudimentary and unsuitable. It's hard to imagine that they can quickly be brought up to the standard necessary," said Rev. Poulos.

"The Uniting Church has always believed that how we treat the most vulnerable, regardless of where they're from and how they arrive, is a measure of whether we can truly claim that we're the land of the 'fair go'. It's clear that we can no longer make this claim.

"If we are to call ourselves a just and hospitable community we must demand more of our Government," said Rev. Macrae.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact Natalie Shymko at the Uniting Church National Assembly Communications Unit on 0414 691 222.

Labor's refugee policy out of Howard era

AAP / Sydney Morning Herald
April 19, 2010 - 6:31PM

The Greens have accused the federal government of a discredited Howard-like approach to asylum seekers by deciding to reopen a West Australian detention facility.

On Sunday, Immigration Minister Chris Evans announced the government would reopen the centre at Curtin Air Base in a bid to ease overcrowding and potential conflicts at Christmas Island.

The decision came just a week after a freeze was put on Afghan and Sri Lankan refugee applications as a deterrent to new arrivals.

Senator Evans said Curtin would be readied immediately to hold 200-300 Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers whose refugee applications had been suspended.

"Previously it's been used for this purpose and initially we'll be upgrading the facility to accommodate that cohort of persons who have had their asylum claims suspended," Senator Evans told reporters in Perth.

"We need to find an appropriate secure facility to deal with these asylum seekers."

Greens immigration and human rights spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young slammed the move, saying it was another example of "policy-on-the-run" from the government.

"The immigration policy, the refugee response from the government, is a dog's breakfast - it's one announcement after another without the real follow-through of any type of practical long-term or humane approach, from the Australian government," she told reporters in Adelaide.

Senator Hanson-Young said Curtin - 40km southeast of Derby in Western Australia's far north - had in the past been described as "a living hell hole".

She said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was trying to win votes, but warned "the Australian public are smarter than that".

"Everything he's announced over the last couple of weeks harks straight back to the days which were discredited under the Howard government, where we detained vulnerable people in the middle of the desert, where we detained children behind barbed wire," she said.

"This is a government who said they would work to dismantle that regime and now we see them implementing it themselves."

Senator Evans said the first group of single-male asylum seekers - who are subject to a three-month freeze for Sri Lankans and a six-month freeze for Afghans - would be moved from Christmas Island to Curtin as soon as upgrades were finished.

In addition, 60 single-male detainees would immediately be moved to the Darwin detention centre, and a group of about 70 unaccompanied minors moved to Port Augusta, in South Australia.

While that move was planned for Sunday, it was delayed until at least Monday, after a charter plane suffered mechanical difficulties.

Senator Evans said "a couple of hundred or so" people would be moved off Christmas Island "in the next week or two" to ease overcrowding.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the new policy was "another example of failure by the federal government".

"We've seen now people being transferred to Darwin, which the government said it would do once Christmas Island was overflowing, and we now see a complete end to offshore processing in this country," he said.

Mr Morrison said the costs of dealing with asylum seekers in Australia were spiralling out of control.

"How much is it costing them in midnight flights, these charter flights, all around the country as Christmas Island spills over?," he said.

"How much is it costing to put in place all these new centres and facilities being reopened at Curtin?

"The cost is mounting and the government's failure continues to increase."

Senator Evans said he did not know the final cost of expanding Curtin, but the government would "invest considerably" in the centre.

Refugee Council of Australia CEO Paul Power said the use of the Curtin facility to house asylum seekers was completely inappropriate.

"It is one of the most remote places in Australia and facilities would have to be built," Mr Power said.

"This population of asylum seekers will include torture and trauma survivors, and services for them will be nigh on impossible to deliver.

"It is hard to think of any good policy reason to pick this remote location instead of locations closer to available services.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/labors-refugee-policy-out-of-howard-era-20100418-sme7.html

Former inmate slams 'inhumane' Curtin

ABC Online News
Posted Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:00pm AEST

A former refugee who was held at the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia's remote north says the treatment he received at the facility was inhumane.

The Government has announced it will renovate the centre near Derby in the Kimberley and use it to hold male Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers whose visa claims have been frozen.

The centre was closed down in 2002 after up to a third of its 340 detainees were involved in riots, hunger strikes and self-harm.

Iranian-born Fashid Kheirollahpoor arrived in Australia by plane in 1998 and spent four years being shuffled between detention centres around the country.

He spent one-and-a-half years at the Curtin detention centre, and was there at the time of the 2002 riots.

He says a severe lack of facilities and isolation make it unfit for habitation, and the Government should not even be considering reopening it.

"Curtin doesn't have any facilities, and it is so isolated that you can't really expect any good treatment of refugees," he said.

"Generally, the environment was so terrible."

He says he expected to be treated better in Australia.

"I was very, very disappointed," he said." I didn't expect this to happen in a Western country [like] Australia, with a good reputation for human rights.

"It was very unexpected and the treatment in detention became bad to worse."

Several staff were injured and thousands of dollars of damage was done to the centre during the riots in April 2002.

Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition is concerned the centre's appalling history will only be repeated.

"The very remoteness, the weather, the lack of facilities, the fact that people know when they go there that they are going to be there for at least six months, or potentially longer. It does mean that there is the possibility of more protests, of self harm," he said.

"The problems that were created last time, that are already obvious on Christmas Island - all the mental health problems, all those kind of issues associated with long-term detention - that's what Curtin is going to create."

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/19/2876459.htm

Asylum seekers sent to Curtin 'hell hole'

ABC Online News
By Simon Santow
First posted Mon Apr 19, 2010 8:29am AEST
Updated Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:57am AEST

The Federal Government's decision to reopen the Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia has been heavily criticised by refugee support groups.

They call the move "punitive" and an abuse of human rights, and liken the facilities at the RAAF base to a "hell hole".

Curtin was closed eight years ago but now the Government is taking the accommodation - attached to a part-time air base - out of mothballs.

The air base just out of Derby will be used for accommodating single male Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers who have had their claims suspended.

But the decision by Immigration Minister Chris Evans has angered Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition.

"The Government is really putting people in Curtin hoping that they can push them out of sight and out of mind as far as the public is concerned," he said.

"It is a disgraceful step backwards from a government that boasted about the transparency and the humanity in which it was going to treat asylum seekers."

The Curtin facility, which once housed more than 1,000 asylum seekers, was decommissioned in 2002 after riots, reports of violence and detainee mistreatment.

Prior to the centre being closed, up to a third of the centre's 340 detainees engaged in riots, hunger strikes and self harm.

Several staff were injured and thousands of dollars of damage was done to the centre during the riots in April of that year.

Mr Rintoul says the centre's appalling history will only be repeated.

"The very remoteness, the weather, the lack of facilities, the fact that people know when they go there that they are going to be there for at least six months, or potentially longer ... does mean that there is the possibility of more protests, of self harm," he said.

"The problems that were created last time, that are already obvious on Christmas Island - all the mental health problems, all those kind of issues associated with long-term detention - that's what Curtin is going to create."

Return to previous policy?

Former federal Liberal MP Bruce Baird, who is chairman of the Rudd Government's Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council, says the Curtin detention centre is the worst in Australia.

And he says it appears the Rudd Government has moved back to the bad old days of long-term detention.

"We're not terribly far away from the Nauru solution and in terms of the suspension of the processing of the Afghanis and the Sri Lankans, the key difference is in terms of the time limits imposed," he said.

"I think that was the worst factor in terms of the previous regime - the uncertain future - and that caused major psychological problems."

The Refugee Council of Australia has also condemned the move.

"It is a very odd policy choice if what you are seeking is a good policy outcome," spokeswoman Kate Gauthier said.

"It almost appears punitive - a punitive location and decision - it is very difficult to make any other assumption as to why you would choose such a location."

Ms Gauthier says Curtin is not only too far from the capital cities, but it is also too costly and inhumane.

"If these people are coming from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan you can be absolutely sure some of them are torture and trauma survivors who've faced horrific experiences," she said.

"They need to be given good services and very humane accommodation while they wait for this unfortunate halt in the processing of their protection visa claims."

Barnett's doubts

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett says he does not object to the Curtin facility being used to house asylum seekers, but he says it is a remote place with harsh conditions that are not appropriate for long-term detention.

"Curtin has been used before, and it certainly can be used as an overflow facility to Christmas Island," he said.

"But Curtin is not suitable for as a long-term permanent area for refugees or indeed anyone.

"So if there are plans to do that, I would hope that the Commonwealth would talk to the state about it."

But Derby West Kimberley Shire president Elsia Archer says reopening the detention centre is a good thing.

"The positives are that there can be some business for the town and some work for people if they so want to go and work there," she said.

"Having worked in the last one when it was there, there can be some quite good spin-offs for the shire. They ran a little shop for the resies [residents]."

Ms Archer says the atmosphere was "good" when the centre was open.

"You get your ups and downs in places like that but probably [it was] no different to a prison," she said.

"They did use to have some, I suppose, discontent there, but it wasn't a lot, it wasn't as bad as [the Port] Headland [detention centre]."

When the Coalition was in government, it closed Curtin. Now the Opposition's immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, says the facility should not be reopened.

"They haven't told us what the cost is, they haven't told us why this facility has been chosen and not others," he said.

"And they haven't fessed up to the ultimate issue of why all this is necessary and that's because of the failure of their own policies, which they continue to deny."

The Federal Government says Curtin will have room for up to 300 detainees initially and should be open within weeks.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/19/2876159.htm

Immigration sends 184 to Darwin and Port Augusta

Paige Taylor
Additional reporting by Lex Hall
The Australian
April 20, 2010 12:00AM

The overflow of asylum seekers on Christmas Island to the mainland is scheduled to continue today, with the transfer of up to 120 men to Darwin.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship sent 184 asylum-seekers to Darwin and Port Augusta yesterday on two charter jets.

Last night Christmas Island remained over its capacity of 2040, with 2208 people in detention.

Among them was a boatload of 30 people and four crew delivered to Flying Fish Cove yesterday morning. There were 28 Iranians, one Burmese and one Afghan on board.

There are now three Afghans on Christmas Island -- one woman and two men -- whose claims for asylum will not be processed for at least six months because their boats were intercepted after the Rudd government's April 9 announcement it was suspending applications from Afghans.

Yesterday two of the 123 "reject" asylum-seekers sent to Sydney's Villawood detention centre in recent weeks won their case reviews. They could receive visas within weeks, despite Immigration Minister Chris Evans describing the group as on the "removal pathway", having been given the message "they are going home".

"We'll be looking to move them on as quickly as possible," Senator Evans said at the time.

The Australian understands that yesterday two of the men, both Tamils, were informed by immigration officials that they had won their case review and were now waiting for security clearances.

Also yesterday, 11 Sri Lankans in the group received second rejections. One has agreed to be flown home while 10 others can ask Senator Evans to use his discretion to intervene.

One of the Tamils who received good news about his case yesterday, Leela, said he felt very relieved." I feel good but very sad for the other men who got bad news," he said.

At the Christmas Island airport yesterday many of the men being transferred to Darwin were smiling. Those who arrived for the morning flight included a 70-year-old Afghan man. He waited at the front of the check-in queue and a guard quickly found him a chair.

Fellow asylum-seeker Habib from Afghanistan told The Australian he did not know what to expect in Darwin. He wanted to know if there were crocodiles there. He said: "Does it rain all the time like on Christmas Island?"

On the afternoon flight, an Afghan man got to shake hands with his guard as he filed into the terminal." See ya, man," he said.

The 125 asylum-seekers flown to Darwin yesterday landed in the Northern Territory capital about 10pm. They comprised mostly Afghans, as well as several Iraqis and Iranians.

All of the men are single and aged over 18, said Damian Hale, the federal Labor member for the Darwin seat of Solomon.

Mr Hale said the men had arrived at Christmas Island before the decision to suspend processing of Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum-seekers. He said they were in the final stages of health and security checks and would be transferred to the Northern Immigration Detention Centre, a 500-berth facility at Berrimah.

There are currently about 80 detainees at the centre, on the outskirts of Darwin, which until now has been used to house illegal fishermen and crew of asylum boats. Mr Hale was unsure how long the men would spend at the centre but said they were "well and truly down the pathway of being processed."

"They're not earmarked to have the suspension either three months or six months so they're down their pathway of processing," he said." So my understanding is they shouldn't be angsty. Whether they're granted asylum, I'm not sure, but it won't be a long stay for them."

Mr Hale said little had been planned to keep the men occupied.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul welcomed the transfer to the mainland but said providing activities was crucial to the health of detainees.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/.../...asylum-seekers...port-augusta/story-e6frgczf-1225855713333

'Happy' to move to the mainland

The Age
Yuko Narushima
April 20, 2010

Hands shoot up one at a time as an immigration detention guard at Christmas Island's airport yells: "STN-17 ... TRA-84 ... Hilaly".

They are the codes ascribed to each man and boy waiting to fly out of the tropical wet season to detention centres on the mainland.

The 129 people who left Christmas Island yesterday will be the first asylum seekers the Rudd government detains in Port Augusta and Darwin.

A 70-year-old Afghan, with sores on his feet, was the eldest to leave the island yesterday. He shuffled among piles of luggage, looking for his belongings, and found them in a green supermarket bag. Others had packed belongings in pillowslips, garbage bags and Hello Kitty bags, given to them on the island.

Asylum seeker Mohammad Sha Ibrahimi was excited. With limited English and a wide smile, he put his hand on his chest and said "happy".

Other men said they had been on the island for between two and five months.

The government's aim is to process all refugee claims within 90 days. On the other side of the island, customs officials brought another 30 boat arrivals and four crew to shore in driving rain. A baby girl in white flower-patterned socks and a pink jacket was brought down the pier in the arms of her father. A woman by their side appeared relieved.

Christmas Island is now a temporary home to 2358 asylum seekers. The resident population is about 800. Rumours of the next boat's arrival circulate freely at the island's drinking holes and cafes, with most locals unfazed when they turn up. A man scouring a cove for coloured stones continued on his walk unconcerned by the barge bringing ashore more asylum seekers.

A diving team in bikinis and wetsuits shared the pier with the new arrivals

One of the island's high school students said she was sick of the flow of boats.

"I don't see it ending any time soon," the 16-year-old said.

A human rights professor from Perth's Curtin University, Linda Brisknan, said she was concerned by the imminent use of the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia's remote north-west.

"It's the question of isolation. Who's going to visit them ... It's going to be a fly-in, fly-out facility again."

http://www.theage.com.au/national/happy-to-move-to-the-mainland-20100419-spez.html

Backbenchers plan to confront Kevin Rudd over Curtin reopening

Patricia Karvelas
The Australian
April 20, 2010 12:00AM

Tensions are rising among Labor MPs over the government's treatment of asylum-seekers, with backbenchers planning to confront Kevin Rudd over the reopening of the Curtin detention centre.

Eight MPs told The Australian they would press the Prime Minister at the first Labor caucus when parliament resumed next month.

The government has recommissioned the Curtin air base, 40km southeast of Derby in Western Australia, to house up to 300 people whose applications for refugee status have been suspended. Curtin became notorious during its use by the Howard government.

Melissa Parke, Labor member for the WA seat of Fremantle and chairwoman of the joint parliamentary committee on the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, said she was deeply concerned about the Rudd government's approach to the asylum issue.

"I intend to discuss these concerns with the Minister for Immigration," Ms Parke said.

Other MPs, who would not be named, said the issue was causing anger in Labor circles.

"I will raise this with the Prime Minister, we can't go backwards on this issue," one Victorian MP said. "This issue is gathering momentum," said another MP.

Tony Abbott said the reopening of the detention centre was a consequence of the government's failure to control boat arrivals.

"If Prime Minister Kevin Rudd could stop the boats, then Curtin wouldn't be needed," the Opposition Leader said.

Former federal Liberal MP Bruce Baird, who is chairman of the Rudd government's Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council, said the Curtin detention centre was the worst in the country.

"It certainly would act as a deterrent if that's what the object is," Mr Baird said. "If people languish there indefinitely, it will be a real problem."

Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the government for reopening Curtin.

Amnesty's refugee campaigner Graham Thom said housing asylum-seekers more than 2000km from Perth would add to the trauma many were already experiencing.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/.../backbenchers-to-confront...curtin/story-e6frgczf-1225855718569

Shahbazi has mental scars from two years in remote detention

Debbie Guest
The Australian
April 20, 2010 12:00AM

Iranian refugee Zal Shahbazi says he still suffers from the mental scars after being held almost two years in the remote Curtin detention centre.

Now a permanent resident living in Sydney, Mr Shahbazi spent more than four years in detention centres and Broome Regional Prison. He said Curtin, 40km from the West Australian town of Derby, had appalling conditions.

"Curtin is the worst. Woomera was famous because the media could get access to it, but in Curtin no one could go in there . . . no one can hear you," he said. "Prison was much better than detention -- when I was in prison I was able to study." Mr Shahbazi claimed he was beaten by guards with batons at Curtin in 2002, but following the incident he was charged with damaging commonwealth property and transferred to Broome prison for seven months. He was later found not guilty.

Curtin's isolation meant detainees had few if any visitors, it was extremely hot and there was little for asylum-seekers to do.

During his time there, between 2001 and 2002, he was unable to get access to a telephone for long periods and there was no internet.

Mr Shahbazi is worried that the reopening of the Curtin centre -- shut by the Howard government in 2002 -- will leave other detainees with permanent mental health problems. "This is not the solution -- they (the government) have made the mistake again."

Former West Australian inspector of custodial services Richard Harding, who visited the Curtin centre in 2001, said it was a "gulag". The health services, including dentistry, were appalling, and children did not receive a proper education.

Professor Harding said that even with refurbishment it was difficult to see how Curtin could be made into an appropriate place to detain asylum-seekers.

"You've got a location that is frankly unsuitable for any kind of detention because of the logistical difficulties and lack of any natural community links," he said.

"It's difficult to imagine how the drawbacks of the location can be overcome in such a way as to provide a decent regime consistent with Australia's international human rights obligations."

Immigration Minister Chris Evans has said people detained at Curtin -- single male Sri Lankans and Afghans whose asylum applications have been suspended -- will be provided with appropriate support services.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/...shahbazi...scars...remote-detention/story-e6frgczf-1225855715198

Former Curtin detainees recoil as 'hell' gates reopen

The Age
Andra Jackson
April 22, 2010

A former Curtin Detention Centre detainee yesterday described the centre as ''a place abandoned''.

Farshid Kheirollahpoor, who spent 18 months at the centre, said asylum seekers were struck by a feeling that it was ''hidden away, away from civilisation and out of mind''.

This created fear and anxiety and along with delays in processing, was responsible for the deterioration he witnessed in other detainees and ''the number of hangings and self-harming'', he said.

Mr Kheirollahpoor, now an Australian citizen, said compared with Port Hedland and Perth detention centres where he was also held, ''Curtin was the worst one. It was my greatest fear to be sent there.''

He was commenting on the federal government's decision to reopen the mothballed facility to take the overflow of adult male asylum seekers from increasing boat arrivals.

''I can't understand why they would want to reopen it,'' he said of the facility where numbers at times exceeded 1000 and which was the site of lip-stitching protests, mass riots, arsons and escapes until it was closed in 2002.

The nearest town to Curtin, a one-time Australian Air Force base, was Derby, an hour's drive away. Detainees lived in metal rooms that resembled shipping containers, holding up to 16 people. Facilities were adequate for 200 to 300 people.

Mr Kheirollahpoor said the dining room sat limited numbers, so others lined up in the heat for up to an hour for their turn to eat. Toilet and bathroom facilities were not designed to make cleaning and hygiene easy. Broken toilets stayed unfixed, he said, because repairs were difficult in such an isolated area.

He said there were queues for the four public phones when he was at Curtin from mid 2000 to the end of 2001, and one television. There were also queues at the small medical centre. To beat the oppressive heat detainees stayed up at night and slept until noon.

The detention centre was surrounded by a high metal security wall with wire on top with a very high spotlight ''that made the centre like daylight at night'', he said.

An Afghan former detainee said: ''There was no proper medical service and people couldn't visit us because it was in the middle of the desert, I hate that place more than hell; well, Curtin is a hell.''

The move to reopen the centre was condemned by the United Nations refugees body. Its regional representative, Richard Towle, said: ''The combination of mandatory detention, suspension of asylum claims and the geographical isolation of detention facilities such as Curtin Air Force Base in Western Australia - all without any effective judicial oversight - is a deeply troubling set of factors.''

The Refugee Council of Australia condemned the move as ''a backward step to reform'', while the authors of Human Rights Overboard: Seeking Asylum in Australia, Professor Linda Briskman, Susie Latham, and Professor Chris Goddard, said: ''Curtin Detention Centre was the worst of Australia's hell-holes. It was the most secret, most isolated and most brutal.''

An Immigration Department spokesman said the mess and accommodation facilities had been used recently and could be made ready for use in two weeks. Improvements would continue as security was upgraded, he said.

http://www.theage.com.au/.../former-curtin-detainees-recoil-as-hell-gates-reopen-20100421-szzu.html

The nightmare of life behind Curtin's wire

It is immoral to reward a bid for freedom with indefinite detention.

Sydney Morning Herald
Ramesh Fernandez
April 23, 2010

Detention centres in mainland Australia are reported to hold more than 400 people, including 140 children, the youngest a baby born two weeks ago to a woman held in Villawood detention centre in Sydney. These people do not come here lightly. Many travel through countries such as Malaysia or Indonesia without going through any international humanitarian refugee process, before taking the treacherous journey in a leaky boat across the Indian Ocean to Australia. Mostly they leave their countries due to a fear of persecution or fear of living in a war-torn environment.

Yet these arrivals by boat are questioned and monitored more closely than others by the Australian government.

When they leave their countries, not only do they leave behind their material possessions, but also their partners, children, parents and friends. Desperation pushes them to leave their homes and take unknown risks in rough seas. Such journeys are a defence mechanism and a desperate bid for freedom. Unfortunately, the bid for freedom has been viewed by some as economic desperation.

This article arises from personal experiences of being detained indefinitely in offshore and onshore Australian detention centres. Detention is a form of house arrest established by the Hawke and Keating Labor governments and developed under John Howard's regime.

We at RISE, an organisation that assists refugees, survivors of war, migrants and former detainees in Australia, would like to correct any misconceptions created by the government that it is a loving, humane or family-friendly environment. Many years of incarceration have contributed to mental and physical disabilities among our fellow detainees. Yoga classes, dance classes and similar activities run by government-funded agencies inside detention centres - such as on Christmas Island - are at best public relations exercises that demonstrate an acute lack of sensitivity and recognition of what is going through the minds of detainees who are being isolated and imprisoned indefinitely.

We condemn the Australian government's decision to reopen the Curtin detention centre. Many of us have experienced first-hand what it is like to be detained there. Curtin made people's lives worse and the isolated surroundings intimidated people into volunteering to go back to the countries where their lives were jeopardised in the first place.

When people spoke out against injustices they were experiencing in the detention centre, they were placed in isolation or solitary confinement.

A former Curtin detainee from Iran recalls that ''our freedom was violated and limited by the authorities who treated us like animals''.

An Afghan formerly detained in Curtin says: ''The isolation of people in this red desert is not a solution for stopping people smugglers profiting from innocent victims of trauma.''

Another Afghan ex-detainee who spent time in Curtin said, ''When I remember Curtin detention centre, my whole body starts shaking and I'm still scared of talking about what happened to me while I was there I saw the bad side of Australian treatment of detainees, but I'm not a citizen yet and I would like to bring my family to Australia, so I'm not going to give my name publicly.''

During the Second World War, Jewish people crossed borders and entered unfamiliar lands to seek protection and justice because they were being persecuted. For the same reason, people are fleeing countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka as they are being oppressed and persecuted, and suffer greatly from unstable and dangerous environments of war and terror.

There is nothing left to fear when oppressive circumstances push them into deciding to leave their loved ones and board a rotten boat. We are surprised that these ''push'' factors are being disregarded by politicians who continue to argue that implementing a mandatory detention policy is an acceptable solution to the problem of people arriving on Australian shores.

When he was shadow immigration minister in 2004, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith visited Baxter detention centre. I was detained there and he spoke to me. He condemned the Howard refugee policies that were used against victims from war-torn countries. Yet, we are beginning to see the resurgence of threats - from both political parties this time - to asylum seekers as we approach the next general election.

Detention is an immoral solution used to criminalise people who are already suffering from the pain and trauma of being forced to leave behind their families. The enclosed and isolated spaces in which these people are incarcerated for indefinite periods of time increases the incidence of mental illness, including thoughts of suicide and self-harm; life becomes automated, devoid of feeling, while the dream of freedom which started the journey to this country becomes a mirage outside the wire fences.

This dream to live free from persecution cannot be imagined unless you have been in our shoes. We fled war, terror and persecution, and the price we paid was arbitrary detention.

As former detainees, we strongly condemn the continuation of the mandatory and arbitrary detention policies of the Australian government.

Ramesh Fernandez is the Founder of Refugees Survivors and Ex-Detainees (RISE)

http://www.smh.com.au/.../the-nightmare-of-life-behind-curtins-wire-20100422-tfql.html

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