It has been reported that 60-70 Afghani men have escaped from the refugee and asylum- seekers’ detention centre in Darwin today, Wed 1st September. The men, the majority of whom are asylum-seekers whose request for refugee status has been declined, are holding a ‘sit in’ alongside the Stuart Highway, with banners that read “Please help us”, “Show us mercy”, and “We are homeless, defenseless and we seek protection”.
Some of the men have informed the media that if they return to Afghanistan they will be killed. “If I go back, they will cut off my head,” said Kazemi Syed Zulfiger.
The peaceful protest comes just days after 100 accused people smugglers rioted in the centre, lighting fires and smashing windows. Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, explains that the rioters are impoverished fishermen who have been manipulated by criminal gangs and should simply be sent home.