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Hungerstrike in Villawood


Minister Evans can start evacuating Villawood from tomorrow morning

Sunday November 9, 2008 7:30am WST

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(Villawood contact: Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition, mobile 0417 275 713)

"Yesterday evening's declaration of a hungerstrike by the entire Villawood resident population, by those in Stage 1, 2 and 3, supported by all 135 men and women (see statement below) provides Immigration Minister Chris Evans with the best opportunity he could have thought of, to start a complete evacuation of Villawood and house everyone in the community, thus bringing him in line with the statement of intent and promises he made in a speech at Australian National University a few months ago," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.

"There is no need for more assessments, more inquiries and more reports about whether we should or should not lock people up in Villawood: Minister Evans is fully aware that the centre is a facility that's well below the standard - he has even acknowledged this himself," spokesman Jack H Smit said.

"We've most recently heard an opinion about this inferior standard of Villawood from Mr Graeme Innes, Australia's Human Rights Commissioner, when he testified before the Joint Standing Committee's Australia-wide Inquiry hearings, and said that Villawood was the worst detention facility he had ever seen (as reported on October 24)."

"We've heard this opinion about Villawood expressed on many occasions, also in the Australian Parliament, and as long ago as the time that Senator Amanda Vanstone was Australia's Immigration Minister."

"And the fact that Australia has now signed the UN Convention for Torture and Degrading Treatment, places Minister Evans in a position, whether he likes it or not, where he is guilty of doling out Torture and Degrading Treatment in Villawood to all its inmates, during every day that he keeps people locked up in that Sydney hell hole."

"The time for lectures about Chris Evans' new principles of detention is over now, and this hungerstrike is the most opportune moment in the Minister's career for him to start evacuating people from Villawood, and start this action from tomorrow morning 9:00am, and start housing its residents in the community."

"This week Chris Evans has the opportunity of showing that he's got the guts he needs, and the political will to implement the decency he has been talking about for months now, because perhaps with the exception of a handful of its 135 residents, they pose no security risk, and perhaps not even a flight risk, if Evans does his job properly."


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