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July 23, 2011

SCHERGER HUNGER STRIKE UPDATE

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

By Saturday afternoon, the number of hunger strikers at the Scherger detention centre is estimated to be 95.

However their physical condition continues to deteriorate. Another five or six have collapsed and been taken to the medical centre.

Meanwhile Serco management has stepped up the intimidation. Serco guards are preventing non-hunger strikers from meeting with or joining in the sit-in protest of the hunger strikers. Other asylum seekers have been locked out of the area where the sit-in is taking place.

The hunger strikers are still waiting for immigration officials to meet them to respond to their demands.

But the immigration representative at Scherger has dismissed and threatened the asylum seekers. “You can join the hunger strike or you can go back to Afghanistan. If you are bored here, you can go back,” he told non-striking asylum seekers today.

Some of the Afghan asylum seekers have been waiting six months for a decision from their “merits review” appeal hearing.

“The long delays make a mockery of the claims that the department is speeding up the processing,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Protesters at Christmas Island detention centre were told in March that the department was committed to speeding up both assessments and security clearances. Protesting asylum seekers at Darwin were told the same thing two weeks ago. ‘Saying one thing and doing another’ has become a routine part of the department’s rolling crisis management strategy. Duplicity has become the hallmark of immigration detention, but the department is platying with people’s lives.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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