Community anger at asylum seekers abrupt shift from Villawood

| April 1, 2014 | Reply

Up to 82 asylum seekers at Villawood detention centre in Sydney have been told they are to be shifted from to Curtin and other more remote detention centres.

Detainees were given a letter yesterday, Monday 31 March, with the first group of people being moved on Thursday, 3 April.

The move has increased anxiety in the detention centre and angered refugee advocates, supporters and regular visitors to the detention centre. Curtin is one of the remotest and most inhospitable of the mainland detention centres.

The claimed reason for the move is the redevelopment of the Villawood detention centre but a completely new section of Villawood accommodating 150 people will be opened at the end of April.

“There has been no consultation whatsoever. Typical of the immigration department, there is no concern for the welfare and well-being of the asylum seekers themselves. It is a thoughtless, rushed and vindictive move,” said Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson, Ian Rintoul.

“Communication with Curtin is notoriously difficult. There is limited access to the internet; faxes don’t work and asylum seekers must call out. There is no way to call into the detention centre.

“People who have been there three and four years are being uprooted overnight. They will be cut off from the community and legal support that in some cases is the only thing that has sustained them over the past months and years,” Rintoul said.

“One of the Tamil asylum seekers, five years in detention, slated to be transferred has severe mental health issues and actually attempted suicide in Curtin in 2011. Others have been found to be refugees and are awaiting final clearance; while others have legal cases against the department still to be heard in Sydney.

“Most of those being shifted this week could easily be granted bridging visas to live in the community rather then being sent to remote Australia.

“We are calling on the Immigration Minister to urgently reconsider and immediately halt the transfer of asylum seekers from Villawood.”

The Refugee Action Coalition has called a protest against the transfers, Wednesday, 2 April, 12.30pm at Department of Immigration office, 22 Lee Street, City (near Railway Square)

For more information contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713

A major rally and march, “Declare Peace on Refugees”, is planned for Sunday, 12 April, 1.00pm, Hyde Park.

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