Scars from detention

May 1, 2010 Comments Off on Scars from detention

** from the archives **

The Australian (19/04) – Iranian Zal Shahbazi has mental scars from two years in remote detention centre

by Debbie Guest

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.

More on SL Boat People

October 9, 2009 Comments Off on More on SL Boat People

ABCradioAustralia (2)

Former Tamil fighters ‘seeking aslyum in Australia’

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia has alleged that large numbers of Sri Lankans seeking asylum in Australia are former members of the Tamil Tiger rebel movement. His claim comes as Australia launches a regional campaign aimed at curbing the rising numbers of people attempting to enter Australia by boat in search of residency.

Click here to listen to broadcast

The Australian  РAsylum deportee held in Sri Lanka

SRI Lankan boatperson who was among the first batch of failed asylum-seekers to be forcibly deported by the Rudd government has been arrested by Sri Lankan authorities.

Australian Immigration Department officials confirmed yesterday that two brothers deported from Perth on Sunday were detained by Sri Lankan police when they arrived at Colombo.

A spokesman for the department, Sandi Logan, said one was charged with people-smuggling.

However, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre campaign co-ordinator Pamela Curr said both men had been detained, charged and sent to Negombo prison. One of them claimed to have been beaten by police.
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Asylum seekers from SL to be deported

October 3, 2009 Comments Off on Asylum seekers from SL to be deported

The Australian: Sri Lankans face forced removal

NINE Sri Lankan men are set to become the first asylum-seekers to be forcibly returned home since the Rudd government was elected.

Last night the men were being flown from Christmas Island, where they have been detained since arriving in November, to Perth.

They are expected to be detained for two days before being placed on a commercial flight to Sri Lanka.

The men were part of a group of 12 whose boat reached Shark Bay, 800km north of Perth, before being spotted by campers. Two of the men have already returned home voluntarily.

The Australian understands the nine men were found by Department of Immigration and Citizenship to have come to Australia in search of work.

Another man from the group remains on Christmas Island where he is appealing the rejection of his asylum claim through the Federal Court.

Last night Immigration Minister Chris Evans said none of the men would be in danger when returned to Sri Lanka.

“All protection issues raised by this particular group have been fully assessed against Australia’s international treaty obligations and there are no protection issues which would prevent their return to Sri Lanka,” hesaid.

But refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said it was outrageous the government was deporting one of the men, Sarath Tennakoon, after he claimed his life would be in danger if forced to return. In an interview with The Australian in August, Mr Tennakoon said he had told the Department of Immigration and Citizenship that his life was in danger after he was identified by the Tamil Tigers as a member of the air force intelligence unit in 2002.

“The appalling human rights abuses of the Sri Lankan government is well known to the world,” Mr Rintoul said.

“It is too dangerous for anyone with problems with the Sri Lankan government, Tamil or Sinhalese, to be sent back.”

Mr Rintoul said he was attempting to lodge a last-minute appeal to the Federal Court against Mr Tennakoon’s deportation.

All nine men appealed against the department’s decision to the refugee review tribunal but were unsuccessful.

They then lodged claims for the minister to intervene and allow them to stay but this was also rejected.

The appeals lodged by the men were only possible because they were found so close to shore and classified as mainland arrivals.

Asylum-seekers found outside Australia’s migration zone do not have such appeal rights.

To date, 22 people detained on Christmas Island have returned home voluntarily and a further 58 Indonesian men are expected to leave voluntarily this weekend.

The men arrived on a boat intercepted near Barrow Island last month and were believed to have come to Australia in search of work.

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