Immigration Department hunger strike spin is callous and bankrupt

Project SafeCom Inc.
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Western Australia 6312
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Immigration Department hunger strike spin is callous and bankrupt

Media Release
Thursday January 20, 2011 9:00am WST
For Immediate Release
No Embargoes

"The continuous spin lines trotted out by the Department of Immigration to media representatives about the Curtin Detention Centre hunger strike, claiming that between 20 and 30 people are participating in the strike, amount to craven lies and callous misrepresentations, and they are eroding the Department's own ethical slogan that "people are our business" to the core," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning.

"Yesterday morning News Ltd reports confirmed that on Tuesday evening kitchen staff in the detention centre were stuck with 1,000 meals that had not been eaten, making departmental media spokesman Sandi Logan look utterly ridiculous. It must be clear that the only agenda served through this spokesman is to paint the Department in rosy colours, if need be with lies and misrepresentations," spokesman Jack H Smit said.

As stated by participants in a written statement, the hungerstrike is the result of the Department's failure in processing protection applications and in keeping detainees informed of its work progress. Since the former Rudd government started what we see as a campaign of political interference with refugee applications in April 2010, announcing the Sri Lankan and Afghan "processing freeze", the Department's performance seems to have been seriously damaged. Since the end of this "freeze" in September 2010 the Department has not recovered, and on all accounts its processes seem to have become stifled, dysfunctional and not producing outcomes. Before April last year, the almost weekly flights from Christmas Island to Australian capital cities, brought between 40 and 100 approved applicants, ready to start their lives in Australia and commence on their settlement phase."

"The messages from the hunger strikers in the detention centre remain unchanged today: many hundreds of people are participating in the hungerstrike. This morning, another contact between a detainee in Curtin and Perth ABC Radio mentioned a number of 700 participants in the action. Media spokesman Sandi Logan has now less than zero credibility left, after having simply abandoned his ethical duties as a public servant, which should have compelled him to be "frank and fearless" also at a junction where the Department simply looks, feels and smells rotten around its duty of care to process protection claims speedily and within the shortest period of time and to the highest standard possible."

Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]

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