Who causes the riots?

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A Uniting Church Media Release

22nd April, 2002

The Federal Government's refusal to close detention centres and implement an alternative refugee and asylum seeker policy is to blame for the dangerous conditions at Curtin Detention Centre according to leaders of the Uniting Church.

Rev Professor James Haire, National President of the Uniting Church Assembly said
"It is the inhumane conditions in the Curtin Detention Centre and the hopeless circumstances faced by the detainees that has led to the riots in detention centres across Australia.

"The Church condemns all violence and vandalism but believes that Australians have a right to understand the circumstances that have led to such appalling actions.

"The Uniting Church is extremely concerned for the welfare of both the detention centre staff and the detainees themselves. But it is not detainees who are ultimately to blame for the riots but rather systems and policies that have bred complete and utter hopelessness and despair".

The Uniting Church's National Director of Social Responsibility and Justice, Rev Elenie Poulos, said "most of the people remaining in detention centres are those who have failed in their refugee applications. They are in detention because they cannot return to their homelands.

"They have committed no crimes yet they are placed in conditions worse than our prisons.

"These people are at the end of the road - they have exhausted all avenues of appeal and have no hope of release. Their daily lives are characterised by boredom at best and depression, anger and violence at worst. It is not the detainees who are the perpetrators of the violence but rather the system.

Instead of building new detention centres and paying out millions of dollars for the ineffective 'Pacific Solution' just a small proportion of that money could fund alternative community release programs for detainees.

"It is a sad irony that while our jails can run community release programs, the Government cannot see past the cruel and inhuman indefinite mandatory detention of a few hundred sad and desperate people", Ms Poulos said.

MEDIA INFORMATION: Contact Kim Cain (For James Haire) 0419 373 123
Or Elenie Poulos 0417 431 853



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