Don’t let Iranian hunger striker die

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on January 13.

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It is feared that a 33-year-old Iranian asylum seeker on hunger strike may have only days to live.

Refugee activists have launched an appeal to Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton and Assistant Minister Michaelia Cash to urgently act to prevent his death.

The hunger striker, known as “Martin”, was on hunger strike for 53 days until December 21 last year. He resumed the hunger strike on December 27, and has entered a critical stage of the hunger strike. He may have already suffered permanent organ damage.

He is presently in hospital suffering from cellulitis, ironically the infection that ultimately took the life of another Iranian asylum seeker on Manus Island, Hamid Khazaie in September last year.

Martin is one of about 35 Iranian asylum seekers in Wickham Point detention centre near Darwin who have been re-detained since August with a view to returning them to Iran. Martin had been living in the community with a bridging visa for two years prior to being re-detained in August.

However, the government knows that the Iranian government will not accept the forced removal of asylum seekers.

Faced with indefinite detention, Martin began his hunger strike in November to draw attention to the plight of Iranian and other asylum seekers in this situation. There are about 1400 asylum seekers in the community who are at risk of being re-detained although the government cannot remove them.

Spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition Ian Rintoul said Martin and the other asylum seekers are victims of a cruel, domestic political agenda.

"The re-detention of asylum seekers who cannot be removed is a completely pointless policy.

“Martin’s fate is literally in the hands of the Minister. We are appealing for the Minister to urgently act to release Martin and save his life. An act of compassion to release Martin would cost the government nothing. We wait in hope, but Martin may have only days to live.”

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