JENSEN LA VENDE and CAROL MATROO
FOR the third time in recent weeks, Venezuelans at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) are protesting being held there.
They have now embarked on a hunger strike.
In the first protest, the inmates were recorded cutting themselves in what they called a “blood strike” against, what they considered to be, their lengthy stay at the IDC.
They were claiming that they were kept there beyond the time stipulated by courts and wanted to be deported or freed, having served their time.
They added that they were being transferred from the centre to the Maximum Security Prison.
This protest took place last month and was made public earlier this month.
In the second protest last week, the detainees set fire to their beds and slept on mattresses on the ground seeking similar redress. Yesterday, video recordings and photographs were leaked showing the men sleeping on their mattresses on the floor of the IDC.
A detention officer told Newsday the centre “is a ticking time bomb”.
He said hundreds of thousands of dollars had been spent to refurbish the centre, and with the current protests and other infrastructural issues, the IDC will revert to its dilapidated condition that saw many of the detainees temporarily housed at one of the nation’s prisons.
The detainees who lit their beds on fire, did so to some of 200 new beds brought in following a visit by National Security Minister Edmund Dillon earlier this year.
“Some of the officers fear the detainees, some are here just to augment their pension. They are former prisons officers and police officers.
They have no vested interest in IDC. I do not know what is their agenda. Detainees are allowed to assault the individuals here.
The officer said all year round the detainees smuggled in drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, and there were cellphones “galore” adding that the detainees did not want to return home, but wanted to be released into society.
Calls and messages to Dillon were not returned up to press time.