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October 22, 2010

TEN ASYLUM SEEKER FAMILIES AT LEONORA ON HUNGER STRIKE

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release October 22, 2010

The parents of ten families at the Leonora detention centre are on hunger strike.

The families are believed to be Kurdish, Iranian an Iraqi family. All have been rejected at their first refugee assessment hearing. They have all been in detention between six and ten months. It is unclear whether they have any result from the Merits Review hearing.

The Iranian family began their hunger strike five days ago. The other families have joined the hunger strike over the past three days.

The main demand of all the families is for their cases to be reviewed. But some have raised general concerns that the health of their families is deteriorating in detention.

“We are suffering in this place,” one detainee said from inside the Leonora detention centre.

The detainees have been told that an immigration representative is coming from Canberra to see them.

“The hunger strike at Leonora throws Julia Gillard’s announcement into some perspective. Three of the families began the hunger strike after Gillard’s announcement,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Julia Gillard says that she will take until June 2011 to release minors and families into community-based detention. These families cannot wait that long.”

Departmental Head of Immigration, Andrew Metcalfe, told the Senate Estimate hearings, “One of the things the minister made clear, though, was that they would be individual assessments based on particular needs and risks.”

“It is even unclear that such families would even fit the criteria for families that would be released under Gillard’s proposal. These families are not just victims of mandatory detention, they are also victims of the offshore refugee determination process.

“Offshore refugee determination process is discriminatory and subject to political interference. These families should be immediately released,” said Rintoul.

Stand up for Refugee rallies are being held in Perth and Sydney on Saturday 23 October, and in Melbourne on 7 November.

For more information contact Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.

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