Extracts from asylum seekers' accounts of their treatment over recent months. There seems to be step up of the government campaign to break spirits and make conditions so bad that they will voluntarily choose to go home to likely death or persecution.
One detainee's response to the breakout in Woomera:
" Maybe they just want to go to gaol. Gaol better than detention hell. People in gaol are allowed something to do. They cannot punish all for what one person do and take away meals and hot drink. Not sit you in sun all day you not do anything bad. Not take you in no clothes and call you less than animal. Not spray you with gas when you just sit not do any hurt anyone or break anything.. They cannot put in isolation ten days, stop you visitors or phone tell your family you ok. My family they will be worry for me , they not hear in five week, already they have war and brother and one sister killed and my mother she cry and think what they do to me. Now bombs every day and fighting south my country. Taliban they kill my family now. Not UN stop them. Every day now on BBC tell of bombs and many killed by Taliban. Why government tell us you must go home "
Letter From Detainee
The following letter sent to a supporter from a young man in detention illustrates the feelings of so many of those in detention. Identifying details have been changed for privacy reasons.Refugee Action Committee
Hello, I'm Ali, 24 years old, single, from Iraq.
How are you, I hope you are well, more than ever thank you so much for your kindness and goodness. I'm also very grateful to canberra the refugee action Group. You make me very surprise, it is the greatest favour.
My pen isn't able to write a word worthy of praising you.
I'm ashamed, that how can I compensate your kindness.
Regretfully, we really are missing the best days of lifetime for nothing in this wrong place.
We have been affected by psychological problems.
I wish, I would have been sunken in the sea, but never arrived to this land.
I have no idea with what hope, I can continue to live, anymore. After two years of detention for who has been charged with arriving to Australia as a refugee, of course, I love Australian people who are thinking like you.
I hate this life full of objection and oppression.
I'm also not agree with damage (fire) and violence.
But these people are harassed from Government.
They are too tired and hopeless.
I'm so sorry that I make you nervous with these words.
I give thanks to you and (R.A.C.) for everything again (parcels)
God bless you.
Extracts from Letters written after the fires in Baxter:
"On the 5th of January 2003 at 7.30 am seventy unskilled officers in full riot gear entered into compound and took out every individual person with a handcuff from their rooms and kept them for eight hours in hot sun without any sip of water. While some of them were naked and officers did not allow them to get dressed. Now-a-days we are suffering in Australian mandatory detention without any cosmetic facilities. They have even deprived us of our bed, shower curtain and mirror from our room."
"After few days early morning when every one is still sleeping, you know in detention mostly people sleep late night and early morning. ACM officers went to everyone's room, they pulled off their blanket. Some of the detainees fell down from the bed and they were afraid and they were crying. ACM put handcuffs on everyone. They don't give time to wear clothes, mostly people came out from their room in underwear or naked. After that we were sitting under a hot sun. After that one by one was strip searched. They moved us from W2 to W1. When we came in W1 there there is nothing, bed, chair, curtains, shower curtain. They removed the places for sitting between the rooms.
You know personally I don't do those things like burning and destroying some things. I never even participated in those things. Some body did bad things but everybody has to suffer. It is not fair. Long time I did not contact my family, I think they are worried about me and why I do not call them, so how can I make contact with my family. I have faced a lot of bad things in detention. I never ever used hand cuffs in my whole life. When they put me in hand cuffs and sit me under the hot sun I cried, I can't control myself, after that strip search in front of two officers. It is a very shameful thing for me, I cannot eat for two days. I thought about those two things (handcuffs and strip search) they have not any respect. I don't know why they treat us so bad, maybe we are not human because we are not white."
February 2 2003
Refugee Action Committee ~ LPO Box 8287,
ANU, Canberra ACT, 0200~ Tel 02 6249 8613
Email ~ http://www.refugeeaction.org/ ~ Webmaster ~
Page modified 5 March 2003