Maryam Namazie
Published in letters section of the Guardian,,642007,00.html
January 31, 2002

The Australian Labour party’s call for the release of women and children from privately managed detention centres is a policy reversal which can be directly attributed to escalating opposition to the government’s detention policy (Afghan children in Australia threaten suicide, January 29). But the proposal fails to offer a real solution to this human tragedy.

The reason for the despair is that innocent people fleeing war and persecution have entered “illegally”, without first obtaining travel documents from their persecutors. Most of them are fleeing from Iran, Afghanistan, northern Iraq, countries where political Islam rules. Though they are political opponents, religious minorities, atheists and communists, women who have faced sexual apartheid, gays and civil, student and labour rights activists, they are persecuted once again upon arrival to “safety” – imprisoned, strip searched, isolated.

An asylum seeker in Curtin detention centre who contacted us this week said they are called by numbers; are denied medical treatment and access to information and the press; materials mailed to them are seized; and they are held in isolation.

Clearly, the only real and lasting solution is the closure of detention centres, not only in Australia, but elsewhere as well. There is no justification for locking up asylum seekers. Their detention is nothing less than state-sponsored violence against victims of persecution and must not be tolerated in the 21st century.

Maryam Namazie
International Federation of Iranian Refugees

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