Detention is a way to destroy people - detained migrants speak out

As protests spread inside the brutal centres where refugees are locked up, current and former detainees tell Ken Olende the hell needs to end.

Protesters gathered outside the Dungavel detention centre in Scotland last week to support hunger strikers inside

Anger and protests over the treatment of people detained in immigration detention centres are rising.Hunger strikes and protests have spread to many of the ten detention centres, including Dungavel near Glasgow.

One detainee in Dungavel told Socialist Worker, “People here are angry because they’ve been here so long. I was one of those refusing to eat. “I’ve been up for bail eight times.

The last time I went to court the judge said, ‘If I see this man again I’m just going to release him’.“That was a year and a half ago. Before I was detained I was in prison for three years. I got asylum in 2002. “I was living with my family, but we had problems and I ended up homeless. I started shoplifting. That was my crime. I stole £5 or £10 here and there. I didn’t kill anybody.“And now I have been held here for three years. “I’m slowly going mad. I’m talking to myself. I’m pulling my hair out. “I’m from Iran. The home office can’t get travel papers to deport me. My mum passed away before I was detained. If I could go to Iran don’t you think I would have gone back for her funeral?“I feel nobody cares about me or any of us. That’s why we protest.”……

Read on:-


700 African migrants are feared to have drowned just outside Libyan waters, in what could prove to be the worst disaster yet involving migrants being smuggled to Europe, UN’s refugee agency says. Sunday morning’s accident means that at least 1,500 migrants have died so far in 2015 while on route to Europe – at least 30 times higher than last year’s equivalent figure, which was itself a record. It comes just days after 400 others drowned last week in a similar incident. The most serious incident prior to Sunday occurred off Malta in September 2014. An estimated 500 migrants drowned in a shipwreck caused by traffickers deliberately ramming the boat in an attempt to force the people on board onto another, smaller vessel.In October 2013, more than 360 Africans perished when the tiny fishing boat they were crammed onto caught fire within sight of the coast of Lampedusa. The migrants seeking to reach Europe with the help of people smugglers are generally fleeing conflict or persecution. 


IKEA’s new mobile shelters are a game-changer for tens of thousands of refugees

There were 51 million people around the world displaced and forced to leave their homes in 2013, the first time that number surpassed 50 million since World War II. 

IKEA has a pretty brilliant plan to help: easy-to-construct mobile shelters that fit five people, and serve as a safer, more durable and more comfortable alternative to makeshift shelters

Australia’s immigration laws are exceptional

No country in the world, especially not comparable countries such as the UK, Canada, New Zealand and the US, mandates the indefinite detention of children as the first policy option and then denies them effective access to the courts to challenge the necessity of their detention over months and even years…

34 percent of children detained in Australia and Christmas Island have a mental health disorder of such severity that they require psychiatric support. Fewer than 2 percent of children in the general community have mental health disorders of this severity.  We believe the rate to be even higher in Nauru.

Children are self-harming in detention at very high rates – over a 15 month period from 2013-2014, there were 128 incidents of self-harm amongst children.

During this same period there were 27 incidents of voluntary starvation involving children.

Children have been exposed to unacceptable levels of assault, including sexual assault and violence in detention. They often live with adults who are mentally unwell.

Children live in very cramped conditions where disease and fear spread quickly. On Christmas Island up to 4 people shared a tiny room of 2.5 x 3 metres

Leading this Inquiry has been a life changing experience for me… as I talked to a very young girl - as bright and eager as any Australian… she broke down in tears, not because her family had been killed by Al Shabaab in Somalia or because she is alone and scared, but because she has been denied an education for a year on Christmas Island.

—  Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, releasing their Forgotten Children report on children in immigration detention

Tony Abbott says Australians are tired of being lectured to by the UN over trivial things like “breaching anti-torture acts." Claims the UN would have more credibility if they gave him credit and praise for his Asylum Seeker policy instead of criticising how inhumane it is.

"Why are you always so negative? Why is no one thanking me for everything I do regardless of what it is?” Tony asked in a confused voice. “I’m a rich straight white male. I thought you all loved me by default. Plus I have a volunteer firefighter medal. A medal! Surely that by itself makes up for every bad deed ever, right?”

“You’ve all changed.” He yelled at the sky hoping everyone would somehow hear. “Now you’re all ”politically correct" and “not racist.” What is this “torture is wrong” and “refugees are people not tools in political scare campaigns” crap you keep talking about?“

"I’m sick of being held responsible for my actions!” he said before storming off. “This is a blatant partisan attack on our Government and the UN clearly has a political agenda to support Labor!”

There have now been rumours that George Brandis has offered the UN “another position elsewhere”, the same one Gillian Triggs turned down.

82-year-old Ayman is asked what is the most important thing he brought with him from Syria, he replies his wife: “She’s the best woman I’ve met in my life. Even if I were to go back 55 years, I would choose you again.” 

"At home we lived like kings and queens. Now, we are refugees. What I miss most is my farm. I miss the olive trees. I don’t even know if my house is still standing.” [Photo: UNHCR/ B. Sokol]


Apart Together - Ines Duemig

Artist Statement: According to the International Organisation of Migration, there are over 200 million migrants worldwide and the geographic region of Europe is home to the highest number. There are economic reasons, civil wars and effects of global warming that force people to leave their home country. We see these stories repeated over and over again in the media. It’s a dangerous journey but most don´t have a choice. Notwithstanding the Schengen region seals off its Southern borders more and more consistently. The electronic monitoring system Eurosur is equipped with new skills and rapid intervention teams for border security, the so-called Rabits who ensure a complete shield to Europe’s fortress. 2.486 unaccompanied underaged refugees were registert in Germany in 2013.

Is human dignity invaluable? The world around us would seem to suggest otherwise. With this project I have tried to regain some of that lost dignity, those private moments when we feel safe enough to reveal some of ourselves. She reveals her inner selves but many of her feelings and emotions can be accessed only subliminally. Sahra was born in Somalia, but left her home country when she was fourteen. After a perilous two year journey she currently lives in Munich, Germany. Her state is: Suspending of deportation. Coming to Europe as a refugee but never being able to settle, she tries to be part of a new world while reflecting on the people the culture that occupy it. Through her unresolved situation and all her experiences she cannot establish a fixed identity instead she has many identities. Her life is moving along uncertain patterns. Those that we are all try to shape when we are young and discovering the people that we are. It reminds me of a mosaic or a labyrinth. Like the patterns on her fingers are a poetic symbol. As her fingerprint plays a significant role in her story, the lines can be seen in relation to her journey and the distance she travelled. Her story is a remarkable one, but her testimony is just another one lost in the countless others like hers that seen documented before. We hear so many of these stories, somehow we all know them already.

[…] The stories we see in the media related to immigration are fleeting.With these pictures I intend for the viewer to stand still. To pause for a moment. It is a test of our hear and now, a touch from a distance. My intention is to put us in real contact with absolute distance, the searching for a presence- if we understand that presence is not something present; what is there, not approaching, not withdrawing (…) and yet designates an infinte relation ( Maurice Blachot) .


Ikea’s Mobile, Easy-To-Assemble Shelters Will Bring Safety, Comfort To Thousands Of Refugees

Thousands of refugees who braved winter’s brutal conditions have more than just milder weather to look forward to this summer.

After pursuing extensive research and testing, the Ikea Foundation and the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are preparing to roll out 10,000 innovative shelters for refugees that will provide the very basics any human would need to survive.

Can we just go ahead and discuss the Turian C-Sec Officer and the young human girl waiting for her parents in the Holding area? I know its relatively minor in the big scheme of game play, but it’s seriously a gut punch for me every fucking time I play it. 

He goes from awkward and unsure to warm and caring. He obviously knows her parents are dead, and just can’t bring himself to tell her. He just tries his best to comfort and protect her. To not leave her side. 

I love these smaller moments. 


The Plaster Housing Projects in Nouakchott, Mauritania by L'Association pour Le Développement d'une Architecture Et d'un Urbanisme Africain [1977-1983]. The association wanted to create a cheap, fast, and effective solution for the acute housing shortage in the Mauritanian capital. The projects are made of basic gypsum plaster shaped into domed vaults. The gypsum was taken from the large gypsum dunes 40 km from the city already in the form of powder, thus being the cheapest building material available. While cheap, it is extremely effective in insulating the structures which is important considering the region is one of the hottest in the world. The construction allows for natural ventilation further cooling the interiors of the structures. Each of the units were so cost effective and affordable that they could be purchased in full by the many refugees seeking homes after both the dramatic cycle droughts and floods that constantly ravaged Mauritania from the 50’s through the 90’s.


Today, 3 million Syrian refugees are living in Lebanon, and over half are children. They’re likely to spend an average of 17 years in exile. 

Those children are the future – the ones who will rebuild their country – but only 20% are in school, and they’re forced to stop at low grade levels.    

Melissa Fleming of the UN Refugee Agency wants that to change. “Education allows them to think of their future,” she says. “Of hope, rather than hatred." 

In her powerful TED Talk, she urges us to create camps where refugees can heal and grow. "The victims of war can hold the keys to lasting peace, and it’s the refugees who can stop the cycle of violence." 

Hear their powerful stories >>

Illustrations by Clarice Holt.


Today marks the one year anniversary of the murder of Reza Barati who was allegedly attacked and killed by detention centre staff. They have yet to be trialed and there is no trial date. The anniversary was marked by skywriting over the Opera House and parliament that read “shut down Manus” and “close Naru”. More can be read about it here.

RIP Reza Barati. I hope future governments of Australia won’t let refugees down the way ours let you and your family down.


Engineer Turned Cabbie Helps New Refugees Find Their Way

Almost 70,000 refugees — victims of war, hardship and persecution — are allowed into the U.S. each year. But settling into their new homes can be a challenge, from learning English to figuring out how to turn on the dishwasher.

Omar Shekhey says he’s there to help. The Somali-American drives a cab at night, but during the day, he runs the nonprofit Somali American Community Center, based in Clarkston, Ga.

Clarkston, a small town outside of Atlanta, is sometimes called the “Ellis Island of the South.”Several thousand refugees live there, resettled by the U.S. government from Somalia, Burma, Bhutan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other hot spots around the world.

Shekhey and his small staff pick up where the resettlement agencies leave off, he says, helping refugees feel at home. “We are like soldiers. We go do whatever’s needed. No time sheets, no nothing. Just go.”

And Shekhey, 55, seems to go nonstop, taking phone calls about potential jobs for refugees, helping people with government forms or organizing a community dinner between refugees and local Jewish teens. There’s a steady stream of people seeking help at the center, a small office tucked in a strip mall with shops like Al Muhajaba Clothing Store and Halal Pizza and Cafe.

Story by Pam Fessler & Images by Kevin Liles.

Read the story here.

Dalaa al-Aydi, 4, was born into a middle-class Damascus family just before the start of Syria’s civil war, which has killed so many and displaced so many more. By the time her family reached Lueneburg, Germany, last fall, she had already lived in a dozen places. “Takh, takh,” she said, mimicking the sound of gunfire — her only memory of Damascus.

Can’t Go Home: Stories Of Syrian Refugees

Photo credit: Holly Pickett for NPR 

This project was reported with help from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting