17 Perth detainees start hunger strike over cancellation of work

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

17 Perth detainees start hunger strike over cancellation of work

Media Release
Thursday February 17 2004 - 11:00am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

Seventeen detainees at the Perth Detention centre called a hungerstrike yesterday evening after the detention centre operator, Group 4, announced that all jobs reserved for detainees were to be cancelled, thus depriving them of many opportunities to create their only meagre income, which provides them with money for phone calls to their friends and family, and purchase of incidentals including cigarettes.

Detainees further reported that after the hungerstrike was announced, they were subject to threats by security guards, who unexpected entered the space armed with batons. It remains unclear whether these "riot officers" were Group 4 Staff, Federal or State police, or part of the infamous CERT team. Detainees felt as if they were approached like this in an attempt to incite them to violence.

The current tension in the Perth detention centre may well have been aggravated because of the sudden presence of at least 50 crew of an apprehended Pataginian Toothfish fishing vessel - who suddenly take in the cramped space in the small detention centre, sleeping on bunks and on the floor of the normally quiet quarters reserved for refugee claimants awaiting the outcome of court cases, appeals and reviews.

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For more information:

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
Narrogin/Fremantle WA
[phone number posted]

Peter Wilkie
Refugee Rights Action Network Perth
[phone number posted]

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