Candidate plans hunger strike

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BY ARUN PRADHAN

MELBOURNE — Jorge Jorquera, the Socialist Alliance's candidate for the western suburbs seat of Gellibrand, has said he will go on a three-day hunger strike outside the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre to protest the imprisonment of refugees.

The hunger strike, to be held from September 21 to 23, will also involve a range of local migrant and anti-racist activists and will coincide with the planned "solidarity bus tour".

Jorquera told Green Left Weekly that the campaign to close Australia's refugee camps was a key aim of the Socialist Alliance.

"We are already pursuing efforts to launch a sanctuary network for escaped refugees, and are supporting monthly vigils at the detention centre", he said.

Those inside Maribyrnong immigration detention centre won a minor victory on August 22, when they forced Australasian Correctional Management to return a door removed from the mosque/prayer room in the men's area.

ACM had removed the door from the room, citing security concerns following the recent escapes from Villawood detention centre. Forty people gathered in the communal area to protest the removal of the door.

Detainees were concerned the removal of the door was an attack on their privacy while praying and a disruption to non-praying people; the room is in the same corridor as the sleeping area and many people pray as early as 5.30am.

ACM officers claimed the decision to remove the door had been made in Canberra and there was nothing they could do. Those protesting set an hour deadline for a positive response. After an hour, ACM relented and refitted the door.

Jorquera will be hosting a campaign launch and dinner on August 31 at the Yarraville Community Centre.

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