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July 22, 2011

SCHERGER HUNGER STRIKE GROWS; BUT FEARS FOR HEALTH OF THE PROTESTERS

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

The number of Hazara hunger strikers at Scherger detention has grown from 60 to 80 by late Friday, but the dry hunger strike (no food or water) is taking a serious toll on the protesters’ health.

Without water, the condition of the asylum seekers has deteriorated quickly. Reports from Scherger early Friday evening said that the situation for the hunger strikers ‘had got worse’; two of the hunger strikers had collapsed, while others were dizzy and having difficulty standing. Most of them are already suffering severe headaches and pains in the kidney area.

However more asylum seekers are expected to join the hunger strike overnight – perhaps to take the place of those who are receiving medical treatment for dehydration.

The hunger strikers have issued a statement on Friday afternoon (see below) which includes four “suggestions” – the review of all cases within a month; known biased reviewers are to step aside from the review process; the release of all detainees into community detention for those who have been in detention for three months or longer; and for the media to be allowed to report on the situation at Scherger.

“The government should also release all those found to be refugees but still waiting for security clearances,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. Fifty-two of the hunger strikers have had their appeals rejected and are now waiting for judicial review in the Federal Magistrate’s Court.

But the hunger strikers’ call for a review of all cases, focuses on the fact that off-shore processing is discriminatory and neither independent nor accountable. A number of reviewers are responsible for a disproportionate number of the rejections of Hazara asylum applications.

Hazaras are also being subjected to harassment to agree to return to Afghanistan, despite the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the opening of dialogue between the Karzai government, the Nato forces and the Taliban – the historic persecutors of the Hazara minority.

“The situation at Scherger is becoming urgent,” said Ian Rintoul, “Unless the government acts quickly we could see a repeat of the mass hunger strike at Curtin earlier this year, when a field hospital had to be set up in the grounds of the detention centre to treat hundred of collapsing hunger strikers. Many of the people at Scherger have already been robbed of their mental health – now their physical health is at stake.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

Press Release

In the Name of Merciful God
This HUNGER STRIKE is a response to the continued pressure exercised by the Australian Immigration Department on us.

The participants in this hunger strike have been denied protection and robbed of their liberty for periods of time extending over a year, even up to 20 months. This punitive action and arbitrary jailing, has destroyed our physical and mental health.

Our families – including our children – living outside detention and overseas have suffered additionally from the terror of Taliban, and the tyrannies of other dictators and regimes.

Daily sadness and additional trauma that we are exposed to remains unknown to certain officers and Immigration Merit Review members. These members are neglecting our claims, the reasons for our claims, the arguments that we have supplied, and the documents available to them, they have consequently failed to reach a comprehensive human and just decision.

We are locked in “NO MAN’S LAND” inside a military base where average people and the media have no access to us.

Our friends and relatives cannot reach us and we have to accept the blame of officials, and the suggestion that “you are not looking after your case!”

Our treatment in this way is very hideous and painful. They are melting us in a bureaucratic oven, and pushing us through cracks in the law, all the while, money-makers are making their money and we have to suffer indefinitely and infinite trauma.

We have to suffer for such a long time, because you want to send messages to the opportunistic smugglers. You have punished us more than enough and the smugglers will have received your messages. Be happy!

SUGGESTION:

1. All rejected cases have to be reviewed by positive and reputable IMR members within a month. 2. Well known IMR members, who have, prolonged the detention of Asylum Seekers with their arbitrary and unjust decisions, have to step aside until the completion of this process. 3. All detainees who have been in the detention more than three months and have completed health checks should be released under the “Community Detention Program”. 4. Media must be permitted to see and report our condition to the people of Australia and the world.

Finally we are asking that all freedom-loving people of Australia and International Organisations would support our cause and our struggle for justice. Be assured we are peace loving people and we do respect the traditional owners of the land in Australia, and all peoples of Australian and their magnificent cultures.

We are Law abiding people and we have been calm and quiet for many months. We have reached the end of our resilience and we cannot cope anymore.

This Hunger Strike action we are undertaking is fully peaceful and our demands are all just and fare. We are happy to negotiate, but our freedom is not negotiable.

Many thanks for your attention.
Signatures of Hunger Strikers

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