Another man dead at Villawood and the government shrugs

Murdoch’s Australian newspaper often reports news by simply republishing whatever the government tells them (this story has subsequently been updated but below was the original text of the story):

Immigration authorities are investigating the sudden death of a detainee at Sydney’s Villawood detention centre this morning.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship said the 36-year-old Fijian national had been held in Villawood since August 17.

Detention services provider Serco was also providing a report to the police and the department on the circumstances surrounding the man’s unexpected death at about 10am today, it said.

In fact, as Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon said this morning – and I heard directly from a detainee inside Villawood – the situation is very different (and by the way, what’s the role and responsibility of the company that runs Villawood, Serco?)

Responding to the suicide of a Villawood Immigration Detention Centre detainee this morning and the ongoing hunger strike of up to 20 other detainees the Greens have renewed their call for the federal government to speed up processing of refugees and to abide by Australia’s international treaty obligations, Greens Senator-elect Lee Rhiannon said today.

“The tragic death this morning of a young man from Fiji underlines the suffering many asylum seekers are experiencing because of the inhumane handling of refugee applications by the federal government,” Ms Rhiannon said.

“I have spoken to a Villawood inmate this morning and the situation inside sounds tense and distressing.

“From the information I have received some of the asylum seekers saw the young 28 year old man jump to his death.

“Also a hunger strike by up to 20 detainees objecting to their treatment is continuing.

“Yesterday I was at Villawood as part of a delegation of union and Greens members committed to working for justice for refugees.

“Three detainees at Villawood have been already processed by the UNHCR. They showed me their cards that display their refugee status but still the Australian government refuses to accept them.

“Many men broke down in tears as they described to us the suffering they are going through.

“They feel a sense of hopelessness, as their interactions with officials leaves them with the strong impression that the process is
not fair and the Australian government wants them to return to their homeland.

“The uncertainty of their fate, the fear that they will be killed if they are returned to their home country and prolonged detention is having devastating effects on their mental health.

“The Greens are calling for an end to mandatory detention and a more humane community-based approach,” Ms Rhiannon said.

The immigration department called the incident an “unexpected death”.

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