Police end refugee protest in Australia


Police in Darwin in Australia have ended a seven hour protest by refugees being incarcerated in a detention centre. Over ninety refugees from Afghanistan escaped the detention centre in the northern territory in over a 30 degree- temperatures to the nearby Stuart Highway holding placards demanding to be processed and treated like human beings. 

 The group, carrying banners made out of sheets saying things such as "please help us, show mercy to us", do not want to be sent home to Afghanistan. One man said rejected visa applications had sparked the detainees call to protest:"If they send us back, the Taliban will kill us"."They say it's safe for us, but why are American and Australian soldiers still there then?"  The Australian Government currently has a ban of processing ‘asylum seekers’’ which is due to be lifted next year.

Seventy-six asylum seekers were taken into police custody and are being held at the Darwin watchhouse as unlawful non-citizens.  A further five protesters, two of whom were suffering from heat exhaustion, were in the custody of immigration officials at Royal Darwin Hospital.

This comes as the ninety second boat is intercepted this year in Western Australia and the issue of refugees was high on the agenda in the recent election, with all the mainstream parties whipping up fear and the scapegoating of immigrants. Australian troops continue to serve in Afghanistan along with other coalition forces, leaving devastation in their path and causing a massive refugee crisis.   Imperialist forces are only part of the problem rather than the solution.

  Detainees are incarcerated in one of detention centres in the mainland or in Manus Island or Naura which are managed by the private company Global Solution Ltd.  An enquiry by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissionin 2004 found that  

‘Between 1 July 1999 and 30 June 2003, 2184 children were detained after arriving in Australia seeking asylum without a visa. Approximately 14 % of those children came to Australia alone (unaccompanied children). Most of them came from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Almost 98 percent of the Iraqi children were recognized as refugees;

The inquiry found that children detained for long periods of time were at a high risk of suffering mental illness. Mental health professionals had repeatedly recommended that children and their parents be removed from immigration detention. The inquiry found that the Australian government's refusal to implement these recommendations amounted to “..cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of those children in detention”.

Words: Sean Matthews