SYDNEY: Australia has denied that hundreds of immigrants have gone on a mass hunger strike at a facility in Melbourne, while insisting conditions at the facility are not “inhumane or brutal.”
Days after detainees and activists declared a hunger strike in a protest against living conditions, the Australian Border Force said there was no “mass hunger strike” at Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation.
“While some detainees are refusing to attend regular meal times as part of a protest, they continue to eat and drink in other parts of the facility,” the border force said in a statement.
But activist Ian Rentoul of the Refugee Action Coalition said the “hunger strike protest” was now in its fourth day.
Detainees launched the protest over complaints of prison-like conditions and limited privacy.
Thirty-year-old New Zealander John Vaofusi, who lost automatic residency rights after being convicted for assault, earlier told media said he would continue the hunger strike “until we see some change.”
“I feel like I’m in jail again,” he said. “I’ve done my time for that crime.”
The border force defended conditions inside the centre, saying “the detention population has changed considerably in recent years.”
It added “a significant number” of the detained population had “their visa cancelled on character grounds, based on criminal convictions and links to criminal associations such as outlaw motorcycle gangs or organised crime.”
Successive conservative and Labor governments have upheld a decades-old policy of mandatory detention for “unlawful non-citizens” even for minor offences like visa overstays.
Hunger strikes are a frequent occurrence at Australia’s onshore detention facilities, which house people who have run afoul of immigration law.
Hajj applicants can get money back!
ISLAMABAD: Those successful applicants who don’t want to perform Hajj may now apply for a refund of the deposited amount from the relevant banks.
Ministry of Religious Affairs has informed that the refund forms could be downloaded from www.hajjinfo.org. It is pertinent to mention here that in case a successful applicant could not go for the pilgrimage ja blood relative could avail the change.
Confiscated goods’ auction fetches over Rs. 16 b in 5 years
ISLAMABAD: The authorities concerned have amassed Rs. 16.124 billion through auction and disposal of different confiscated/smuggled goods during the last five years.
The confiscated goods are disposed of through open public auction as provided in auction/customs rules. A variety of smuggled goods have been confiscated in the country by Pakistan Customs during the period and these included tea, auto parts, cigarettes, medicines, antiques, crockery, vehicles, cloth, tires and tubes, diesel, electronic goods, and narcotics etc.
Elaborating procedure for the auction of confiscated goods, sources at Finance and Revenue Division on Sunday said as per auction rules, the Collector or an authorized officer shall nominate an auctioneer from amongst registered auctioneers to conduct an auction of confiscated goods. The amounts and names of the highest and second highest bidders are recorded in the file by customs staff supervising the process along with copies of National Identity Card as well as NTN of the successful bidder.
The auctioneer on receipt of a certificate issued by Collector or an authorized officer to the effect that the whole amount of bid has been realized, issues under his seal, a delivery order. The sources said there are certain items like arms and ammunition, liquor/narcotics and like goods which cannot be put to auction.
It is pertinent to mention here that goods like confiscated narcotics and expired/banned/hazardous items/goods, not fit for human consumption, are destroyed. However, arms and ammunition of prohibited and non-prohibited bores are disposed of by allocating the same to an agency/department having anti-smuggling powers for their official use.
NZ to hold national remembrance service
CHRISTCHURCH: PM’s Office has announced that New Zealand would hold a national remembrance service on 29th March for the victims of two mosques’ massacre and their families, the PMs office announced on Sunday.
The interfaith service will take place in Christchurch two weeks after an Australian white supremacist shot and killed 50 Muslims who had arrived for Friday prayers at two mosques in the city on March 15.
“The national remembrance service provides an opportunity for Cantabrians (Christchurch-area residents), New Zealanders and people all around the world to come together as one to honour the victims of the terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.
“In the week since the unprecedented terror attack there has been an outpouring of grief and love in our country.
“The service will be a chance to once again show that New Zealanders are compassionate, inclusive and diverse, and that we will protect those values.”
The slaughter has rocked the normally laid-back country and prompted horror worldwide, heightened by the gunman’s cold-blooded livestreaming of the massacre.
Since then, New Zealanders have responded with an outpouring of support for the country’s small Muslim community.
The attack also left dozens of people injured, some critically.
Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, was arrested within minutes of the massacre and has been charged with murder.