Asylum Seekers Protest In Darwin Detention

Asylum seekers protest in Darwin detention

By Emma Masters
The ABC News (Australia), June 21, 2010

The Immigration Department says 31 asylum seekers are continuing their protest at the Darwin detention centre.

The protest began a week ago, with some asylum seekers refusing to eat.

One protester was taken to hospital for a check-up on Saturday but is now back in detention.

The department says the number of protesters fluctuates but as of this morning there were 31 people in the group.

The protestors are all Rohingyan, a Muslim minority from Burma.

A department spokesman will not say if there is a united reason for the protest.

He says the protesters are holding the demonstration 'for reasons that are their own'.

The department says the group's action will not speed-up their applications for asylum.

The Refugee Action Coalition says it is difficult to find out what's happening at the centre.

The coalition's Ian Rintoul says there is 'a cone of silence' around the asylum seekers.

Mr Rintoul believes they are worried about being deported.

'They have been waiting months and months for security clearances, entirely unnecessary.'

The Burmese Rohingya Association president, Kyaw Maung Shamsul-Islam, says the men were transferred from Christmas Island earlier this year and many are feeling frustrated by delays in processing them.

'Detainees rang me he told me they are going to hunger strike because of the long processing with Immigration Department,' he said.

'They have been there 10 months, nine months, eight months, something like that.'

There are 449 people being held at the centre.