Hunger strike held in solidarity with refugees

A vigil for a hunger strike in solidarity with detained asylum seekers at Sydney Town Hall on January 30. Photo: Cross Border Co

The Cross Border Collective released this statement on January 28.

Thousands of men, women and children held in Australia’s detention camps are growing increasingly desperate in their second year of incarceration in camps described as “hellholes”.

On Manus Island, more than 700 detainees have been on hunger strike in recent weeks, some sewing their lips together, others swallowing razor blades in despair. In Darwin, at least one hunger striker is in a life-threatening condition. Australia’s government remains unmoved, and immigration minister Peter Dutton has said that detainees’ behaviour, “won’t be tolerated”.

To show solidarity with detainees in Australian camps on Manus Island, Nauru and Darwin, Cross Border Collective is coordinating a seven-day hunger strike, Hunger For Justice, supported by Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, the Refugee Action Coalition, RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees) and the Indigenous Social Justice Association. The hunger strike will start at 9am on January 30.

People all over Australia are invited to fast with us at any point during the week and for whatever length of time. We encourage people to consider carefully their health and limits in participating.

A vigil will be held for the seven nights of the hunger strike outside Sydney’s Town Hall from 5.30 to 7.30pm. Hunger strikers and supporters are encouraged to attend and show solidarity.

We acknowledge that the circumstances under which we take this action are vastly different from those of strikers in detention, some of whom are in a critical condition. We act in support of their courageous work and we repeat their demands for:

· the immediate release of all those currently held in solitary confinement in the notorious Chauka compound on Manus Island

· the transfer of all asylum seekers currently in detention to the Australian mainland

· a fair and timely processing of their claims while they live in the Australian community.

We also demand that hunger strikers on Manus Island, Nauru or Darwin are not incarcerated or otherwise punished for their political action.

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