Thursday, May 26, 2005

Archival Rescue 44 ~ Aus Detention

No room at the inn, child born into detention;

Uncertain future for newborn detainee
By Andra Jackson May 26, 2005 Sydney Morning Herald

Like any new mother, Hoai Thu Nguyen proudly keeps her newborn son by her side in bed but she can't stop crying at the thought that he could grow up in detention.

Michael Andrew Tran, born on Monday night in a Perth hospital to asylum seekers detained for two years on Christmas Island, is Australia's newest detainee.

His birth, as his mother was under 24-hour guard, has fuelled controversy about the impact of keeping children in detention.

The two-day-old baby yesterday became the centre of a tug-of-war over his future with the Prime Minister, John Howard, saying the baby would not be forced to live in detention on Christmas Island and the Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, saying he would.

Senator Vanstone later confirmed the baby and his parents would return to their present temporary community accommodation in Perth.

Refugee advocate Kaye Bernard, the only outside person allowed to visit Ms Nguyen, said this was still detention as the there were two guards at the house, and the couple were not allowed to go outside or to have visitors.

Speaking from her hospital bed, Ms Nguyen said: "I feel sad and sorry that he [the baby] will have to go into detention with me.

"I feel detention is very strange in itself," she said.

"I'm anxious all the time and it makes me feel abnormal."

Ms Nguyen, who had a difficult birth, said having two guards by her hospital room 24 hours a day made her feel uncomfortable, especially during the birth.

Detention guards made her go back to detention in Perth twice after being taken to hospital with contractions in the 48 hours before giving birth, she said.

"It was frustrating having to go back and forth," the first-time mother said.

Ms Nguyen and her husband were among 53 Vietnamese asylum seekers intercepted off Port Hedland on July 1, 2003 and were taken to Christmas Island.

"I don't know why my family and the other asylum seekers have been treated so badly by the Australian Government," she said.


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