‘Detention on Christmas Island must end’ – Uniting Church

The Uniting Church in Australia has expressed its horror at the excessive use of force against asylum seekers on Christmas Island this past weekend.

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev. Alistair Macrae said today, The confirmation by the Immigration Minister that beanbag bullets along with tear gas were used against an unarmed group of people partaking in a peaceful demonstration is of extreme concern to us.

Uniting Church members around the country have expressed their own distress about this incident. We fear that this use of force against already traumatised people will compound their trauma and despair.

This action is reminiscent of the worst of the Howard Governments punitive treatment of people seeking our protection. It appears that it was the deployment and actions of AFP officers that lead to an escalation of what had been a peaceful protest, Rev. Macrae said.

This incident confirms the total inappropriateness of immigration detention on Christmas Island, said Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director of the Uniting Churchs national justice and advocacy agency, Uniting Justice Australia.

When you detain people for months on end in overcrowded and unsuitable conditions, providing little information about their case and prospects of release, it is understandable that their frustrations and desperation will boil over.

While the Governments commitment to the removal of children and families from detention is a welcome step forward, it is clear from this event and the countless other incidents in detention centres across the country, including a hunger strike only recently ended at Villawood, that the detention environment is unfit for any human being man, woman or child.

The continued use of mandatory detention for asylum seekers on Christmas Island and in other locations on the mainland is a breach of Australias international human rights obligations and our duty of care to vulnerable, traumatised people.

We await the release of the full terms of reference for an independent inquiry into this incident which fully investigates the use of force in the detention environment. We also reiterate the Churchs call for an end to the inhumane, damaging and costly policy of mandatory detention, said Rev. Poulos.

For media enquiries please contact Gabrielle Lloyde at the Uniting Church National Assembly Communications Unit on 0408 170001

2 thoughts on “‘Detention on Christmas Island must end’ – Uniting Church

  1. Pamela Curr says:

    Some Rohingyans in DARWIN NIDC protested both yesterday and today because of a physical assault on a fellow Rohingyan.

    What happened was that this man was summarily refused rice in the mess room. Out of frustration he broke a glass.

    He was then chased down and tried to escape from two SERCO guards. When caught, he was held down by the throat, punched twice and kicked.

    They do not know the name of the guards who attacked them but one is of Singaporean descent and one is of New Guinean descent.

    After he was assaulted they asked that he be taken to receive medial treatment but the SERCO guards refused and said he was going to be placed in some form of solitary confinement.

    The Rohingyans then got on the roof in protest. During the protest a computer was damaged by one Rohingyan who has been in detention for 17 months and is suffering from depression.

    Background to above.
    The guard of New Guinean descent, who teaches boxing at NIDC, had been using a MP3 player belonging to one of the Rohingyans whilst conducting boxing classes.

    The MP3 player and a phone card had been taken from there rooms by someone when they had to move compounds because of a protest held a number of months ago by Indonesian fisherman.

    When the Rohingyans informed SERCO staff that he was using their MP3 player it was returned to them.
    After that incident SERCO told the Rohingyans that the man would no longer be working near them.
    It was only yesterday that he returned to working near the Rohingyans and the incident happened.

    The SERCO case manager for the man that was assaulted invited him to make a formal complaint to police regarding the assault but he declined to.

    Pamela Curr
    Campaign Coordinator
    Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
    12 Batman st West Melbourne 3003
    ph 03 9326 6066 / 0417517075


  2. Pamela Curr says:

    Curtin WA

    Scherger detention at the top of Cape York is in mourning as a young Hazara man who escaped the violence and persecution in his homeland could not survive the hopelessness of detention in an Australian camp

    Curtin detention hidden away in Western Australian where hundreds of men are despairing, starving and cutting themselves to distract from the pain of hopelessness and interminable detention.

    Darwin Detention where men climbed on the roof to protest yet another brutal beating by guards. No justice in detention- hundreds of cameras which never see the crimes committed against detainees.

    The family camps where fear of having their children taken away keeps the pain internal until it can not be borne.

    The teenagers incarcerated in Darwin, Melbourne, Christmas Island slowly losing their spirit, being destroyed by mindless long term detention, waiting for security checks when they are not old enough to be a threat to any nation.

    Everywhere Immigration officers are making decisions which hurt and harm.

    The young man who died by his own hand in Scherger was kept there by immigration officers, privately contracted medical staff, privately contracted security staff.

    In the UK DETENTION SYSTEM a suicide costs SERCO 10,000 pounds in fines. What price does the Australian government put on a life in our detention centres?

    We must stand beside and support these people protesting in the camps.

    The immigration department and government use the police force to block
    the public view. They know that Australians will oppose oppression if they see it.

    Christmas Island

    Overnight Fires have destroyed the tents and dongas in LILAC and AQUA compounds.

    Incendiary devices have been repeatedly fired at detainees.

    These blind and deafen temporarily.

    NO SERCO OR DIAC OFFICERS TARGETTED OR HURT – property only is under attack.

    The CI fortress is being destroyed by detainees in protest at the lack of processing and information.

    These people are nor “failed refugees” as is being claimed- they are WAITING and tired of WAITING for decisions.

    Others are WAITING for security clearances after being given positive decisions.

    New Rules are needed.

    Locking men up on Christmas Island for indefinite, longterm detention was always going to fail AND now it has.

    Human beings crave freedom and will fight for it.

    Pamela Curr
    Campaign Coordinator
    Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
    12 Batman st West Melbourne 3003
    ph 03 9326 6066 / 0417517075


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