Detained refugee boys describe suicide attempts

IN a taped interview, one of the two brothers who unsuccessfully sought asylum at the British consulate in Melbourne yesterday described how he tried to commit suicide inside the Woomera detention camp.

On the tape, broadcast on ABC radio, the boy said: “Two times I kill myself by razor, two times I suicide me. They took me to the medical, the psychologist. She said: ‘Why you done this?’”

Lawyer Eric Vadarlis, who acted for the pair, said he had heard the tape and identified the voices as those of Alamdar and Montazar Baktiari, although he was unaware where it was recorded.

The boys also described the harsh conditions inside the camp and said the Australian correctional management guards showed little compassion for the younger detainees.

“When there was fighting they would push the children on the razor wire. The guards they beat, they have a stick and ... when we throw the stones they hit us with the stones.”

He said if child detainees caused trouble they would be denied the chance to attend school. “We didn’t learn English, we learned many bad things. We learned how to cut ourself, how to drink shampoo and how to suicide.”

He said camp managers made the children pay for toys brought into the camp. “The people they give the toys to ACM and they put for themselves.”

The boy said he missed two years’ schooling while being detained in Woomera. But now he was out of the camp he missed his family members who were still inside. “My mother is in the centre with my uncle and with my sisters - we will see her one day.”

Meanwhile, the boys’ father who unsuccessfully applied for asylum at a British diplomatic post tried to claim asylum Friday at a German consulate but was turned away by staff, refugee activists said.

Ali Baktiari flew to the southern city of Melbourne to visit his two sons, who were refused asylum by the British consulate there on Thursday. But Alamdar, 13, and Montazar, 12, already had been flown back to the Outback detention centre in Woomera, which they had escaped from three week’s ago. Speaking by telephone from the centre, one of the boys said he and his brother were pleased to be back with their mother, who also is in detention there, but missed their father.

“Today we have been sent back to Woomera hell after a short period of escape ,” Alamdar said. “I’m happy with my mum but I want to see my father outside,” he added. Refugee activist Pamela Curr said Baktiari went to the German consulate in Melbourne because he fears his temporary refugee visa will be revoked by Australian authorities.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said on Thursday Baktiari and his family lied to authorities when they applied for asylum, saying they were from Afghanistan. Ruddock said he has evidence they are in fact from Pakistan.

“Mr Baktiari wants to get his family back together again,” Curr told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio. As well as his two sons, Baktiari’s wife and three daughters are in the Woomera centre, Australia’s most notorious detention facility for asylum seekers. Baktiari said late on Friday he planned to travel to Woomera on Saturday in an attempt to see his family but later changed his mind after supporters told him immigration officials might detain him.

Curr accused the government of stealing Baktiari’s children. A Sydney international law expert said the brothers could have a case against Britain at the European Court of Human Rights.

“Britain is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and is subject to the European Court of Human Rights. Potentially a claim could be made there against the British government for the way they have treated the children,” said Sydney University law lecturer Mary Crock.

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