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Asylum Seekers Continue Stand-off in WA

Asylum Seekers Continue Stand-off in WA

First published on Spectator.co.nz…

By Selwyn Manning.

Australian
Immigration Minister, Philip Ruddock. A standoff between security at a detention centre in northwestern Australia is now in its fifth day. Australian immigration officials say 28 guards have been injured so far in clashes with the asylum seekers at the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia. Riots broke out on Friday to protest the Australian government's rejection of scores of asylum applications.

Hundreds of detainees armed with knives and sharpened broom sticks took over parts of the facility late Sunday protesting against living conditions and threats of deportation. A fire was also lit at the Curtin centre.

Australian Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock has come under increasing pressure while abroad in the United Kingdom to rethink Australia’s stance toward those seeking asylum and refugee status. Ruddock was set up while attending a legal conference in the UK. Lawyers attending the conference fired a series of accusations at Ruddock before he vacated the scene.

Australia has continued a “tough stance” against those seeking asylum and refugee status, a policy that was highlighted with the plight of the people aboard the Tampa ship. Australia refused to allow the people to disembark onto Australian soil. New Zealand and Nauru eventually averted a human catastrophe after providing sanctuary to the asylum seekers.

Back in Australia, footage of a bloody asylum seeker beating his head against a wall to protest living conditions at the Curtin centre was shown today on Australian television. The footage was historical, from June of last year, and recorded by a private corporation that runs Australia's detention centres.

Australian human rights groups say the graphic footage serves as an indictment of the government's policy of detaining all illegal immigrants while reviewing their asylum applications. Riots and protests have erupted at several Australian detention centres over the past two years. Immigration officials claim calm has returned to another detention centres at Port Hedland, also in Western Australia, after a disturbance Monday. There, a number of detainees rioted at the centres, setting small fires and damaging a fence.

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© Spectator News Agency, Multimedia Investments Limited, 2002.

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