Labor re-opens Curtin 'hell hole'
By Kerry Vernon
About 200 male Afghan asylum seekers who have had their asylum claims suspended were taken to the re-opened Curtin air base detention centre in Australia’s remote north-west on June 19-20, ABC News reported. Over a 1000 asylum seekers were once held in this remote location by the previous Howard government.
The Curtin detention centre “hell hole” was forced to close in 2002 after it had been revealed that asylum seekers had been arbitrary detained under traumatic conditions amid wide claims of mistreatment, violence and abuse which led to riots, hunger strikes and self harm. Due to widespread criticism of the re-opening of the Curtin detention centre, the only reason Labor could have for this move is to quickly and quietly start deporting the detainees at the end of the processing freeze.
Another 23 asylum seekers, including six Afghans and 12 Sri Lankan Tamils, were taken on June 19 from Christmas Island to Darwin. That same day, the immigration department said that the Christmas Island detention centre held 2401 asylum seekers and the Darwin detention centre held 449. The Christmas Island detention centre is now just 100 places short of full capacity. Afghans and Sri Lankan Tamils whose asylum claims have been frozen comprise the majority of those in immigration detention.
Immigration minister Chris Evans said on June 15 that the government is committed to processing asylum seekers offshore. He announced that the government would not reopen the Baxter detention centre in South Australia (another notorious detention “hell hole” under the previous Howard government). Evans also said the government would not detain children in the immigration centres, yet there were 498 children in some form of immigration detention as of May 28, according to immigration department statistics.
Labor is also spending over $200,000 per week on charter flights ferrying asylum seekers and immigration department staff to and from the Christmas Island detention centre to detention facilities on the mainland.