Three Faili Kurdish asylum seekers who stitched their lips together on Monday morning are maintaining their protest in the Darwin detention centre.
The two others who overdosed on Monday night, were returned to the North 1 compound by Tuesday afternoon after being hospitalised and having their stomachs pumped.
The “IMR victims” as they call themselves have rejected approaches from the Immigration department to be moved to another detention centre on condition that they remove the stitches.
They told the departmental officers that they did not want to be moved, they want a solution to their problem. The three have been in detention for between 17 and 22 months.
Their situation has revealed a long-standing flaw in the refugee determination process. Faili Kurds are a stateless minority from Iran and Iraq are denied citizenship and face systematic discrimination in education, jobs, land ownership as well as often being politically persecuted and harassed by the authorities.
In what amounts to discrimination at the hands of the Immigration department, around half of the Faili Kurds are recognised as refugees and get visas, while the other half are being left in detention limbo.
The three protesters are among an estimated 25 Faili Kurds in the Darwin detention centre, while there are around 600 stateless asylum seekers across the detention regime.
“The Faili Kurds face indefinite detention,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “The government knows they cannot be sent anywhere because no country recognises them, but they are keeping them locked up. It is a form of arbitrary punishment and a breach of their human rights. Anywhere else but immigration detention, it would be illegal to hold them. Some have been waiting 11 months since their IMR hearing for any kind of answer to their plight.
“Some of the Faili Kurds are so desperate they have asked to be returned home. They should be released immediately. They have asked for bridging visas or community detention but nothing happens.
“Detention is ruining their physical and mental health. All of them are addicted to sleeping pills and other medication. All of them are on sleeping tablets and other medication.
“Another Darwin asylum seeker told me, ‘We take medicine to sleep, and medicine to eat, medicine to live the day.’”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713
Photos of the three with their lips stitched are below. One of the asylum seekers is photographed with a necklace of the medication he is prescribed in detention.