April 27, 2013
Refugee advocates have claimed visits to the Broadmeadow detention centre have been cancelled on the same day of their latest protest.
The Refugee Action Collective has planned a rally outside the Camp Road centre on Sunday, where two asylum seekers attempted suicide this week.
RAC spokeswoman Daniella Olea said the cancelled visits and excursions were cancelled in “retaliation” against the protest.
“I am disgusted and very upset. This is clearly a punitive decision which is used to deter protest at the centre and used to divide refugee supporters,” she said.
“Refugees have told us how important rallies are for them. Rallies bring people together to expose the lies and shine a spot light at these mental illness factories. The timing of protest doesn’t interfere with excursion or visits.”
The protest will go ahead, she said.
A Department of Immigration spokeswoman said the suspension of visits was done purely for operational purposes.
“The department categorically rejects any suggestion that the Refugee Action Collective protest was the reason for the suspension for visits.
The department fully supports SERCO’s [the company that runs the centre] decision, including the rare occasions it may choose to suspend visit,” she said.
A 17-year-old boy from Iraq and Hazara man in his 20s tried to take their own lives in separate incidents on Wednesday at the centre. Earlier this month, 27 detainees, mainly from Sri Lanka, held a hunger strike against their detention.
Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor told Fairfax Media earlier this month that the asylum seeker’s behaviour would not change the process.
He said the government “will never make any policy changes based around any particular withdrawal of eating or other forms of conduct”.
Asylum seeker and refugee advocates have held rallies across the country since Anzac Day. The group has demanded an end to to mandatory detention and offshore processing.
The protest is scheduled for 1pm on Sunday.