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July 25, 2011

SCHERGER HUNGER STRIKE ENDS – BUT DARWIN ESCALATES

by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Around 100 asylum seekers at Scherger detention centre have ended their hunger strike at about 1.30 pm, Monday 25 July.

The end of the hunger strike came after at least two calls – one on Sunday and one Monday morning – from immigration officials in Canberra.

Until the calls, the hunger strike had been building. More people tried to join last night, but Serco had isolated the protest by locking gates preventing more people joining.

The condition of the hunger strikers had seriously deteriorated. A number of people were unconscious and others unable to stand.

“We thought people might die,” one asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition.

The asylum seekers believe that two of their main demands have been met. They understand that their cases will be reviewed and that future appeal hearings will be monitored, to avoid biased reviewers making life and death decisions.

“The calls gave us hope,” one asylum seeker said, “ But we will see what immigration does now. If they do not live up to what they say, we will start our protest again.”

The Refugee Action Coalition is calling for a review of medical services at the detention centre. “Our information is that there is only one nurse in the detention centre. That is clearly insufficient to deal with the acute cases that a hunger strike or other emergencies can present. Neither immigration nor Serco are taking their duty of case responsibilities seriously,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Colaition.

“We are also renewing our call for a proper review into off-shore processing. Without proper transparency, biased reviewer will continue to make decision with impunity. The government should also act on the other demand from the Scherger hunger strikers and release all those who have been in detention for three months or longer.”

DARWIN ESCALATES

Latest information form Darwin is that there are now 15 roof-top protesters, with at least 60 other Afghan asylum seekers also maintaining a hunger strike.

Yesterday (Sunday), management had threatened to forcibly remove the roof-top protesters and take them to prison, but more people climbed up to join the protest over night.

The protest is also about the long delays in processing, and the unfairness and lack of transparency in the granting of visas. Many of the people have been waiting up to 22 months for answers to appeal but see other asylum seekers who have only been in detention for a few months being released.

The asylum seekers have slogans on their T shirts and banners saying: We need help from humanitarian nation, we are human. We came here for peace and safety not being in the Cage; We are Human like you; 19 Months process not fair; We believe on God, on you; Awaiting for your help; Freedom, Freedom; Will I be free one day.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.

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