Hungerstrikes, naked roof protests: evidence of "Woomera-Baxter" status

Project SafeCom Inc.
P.O. Box 364
Narrogin
Western Australia 6312
Phone: 0417 090 130
Web: http://www.safecom.org.au/

Hungerstrikes, naked roof protests: evidence of "Woomera-Baxter" status

Media Release
Monday December 6 2004 14:50pm WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

"The recent hungerstrikes by Sri Lankans, last week's incident of a Turkish detainee who climbed naked on the roof of the White Two compound, and today's roof protest of an Iranian man, should be ample evidence of the fact that the culture inside the Baxter detention centre has now deteriorated to a 'Woomera level' prior to its closure", WA refugee group Project SafeCom said today.

The Sri Lankans' hungerstrike was aggravated by a cumbersome change in the medication regime, where detainees had to travel by bus to collect medication - which seemed only motivated by cost-cutting on the part of the detention centre operator, Global Solutions Management. In addition, it appears that the fact that now GSL staff - rather than medically qualified staff - distribute medication, is a breach of the medical standards of care that are applicable in Australia.

While this change to medication supply has now apparently been reversed (but not the fact that medication is handed out by GSL staff), the fact that cutting of costs was placed before the care of clients, evokes memories of ACM, which embarked on cost-cutting to the detriment of its level of care at Woomera in 2003.

The fact that a Turkish man who undressed and then climbed on the roof of W2 Compound last Friday, can only be explained as an expression of severe mental distress and in this case, because the man is reportedly a Muslim, a serious distortion of judgment; it cannot be seen as an act of protest in these circumstances.

The Turkish man believed that he had filled in all visa documentation needed to assist his case while he was living in the community in Sydney, but he then was visited by DIMIA who said that this was not the case, so he was detained in the Villawood detention centre, then transferred to Baxter about two weeks ago. The man apparently has been angry and shocked at this.

'The last straw' for the man, according to refugee advocate Ms Pamela Curr, was when DIMIA presented him with a bill for $10,000.

The fact that this morning another man, this time an Iranian, climbed on the roof must be explained again as an expression of a serious state of mental distress.

Detainees have reported that "many riot guards" had amassed last week at the White One and White Two compounds.

Reports have also been received that IDAG, the Immigration Detention Advisory Group, has been called to visit the Baxter detention centre on coming Friday. This itself indicates that the detention centre operator GSL, or DIMIA, or the Minister, regards the current situation as extremely serious.

"Baxter is a hell hole like Woomera was, and it should be closed, mothballed, and no asylum seeker or "accidental overstayer or visa breacher" should live inside it. It is a place for criminals only".

For more information:

Jack H Smit
[phone number posted]

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Asylum seeker protests on Baxter roof
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ABC ONLINE NEWS
Monday, December 6, 2004. 4:24pm (AEDT)

A refugee support group says a Baxter detention centre detainee has climbed onto the roof of one of the compounds and is refusing to come down.

Rural Australians for Refugees says he is the second Baxter detainee to climb onto a roof in four days.

A Turkish man refused to come down for several hours last week.

Rural Australians for Refugees spokeswoman Kathy Verran says the latest man is an Iranian who has been in immigration detention for four years.

She says he is fed up with life inside Baxter and standing on the roof is the only way detainees can see the outside world.

"It gets them away from what's happening around them and they're able to see out, because of course in the compounds they can't see out of Baxter, so it gives them a bit of a view of what's around them," she said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200412/s1258978.htm

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