Hunger strike in solidarity with refugees

January 22, 2015
Hunger strikers pose with messages in solidarity with refugees.

Twenty-two members of Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance initiated a 24-hour hunger strike in solidarity with the hunger-striking refugees on Manus Island.

The action, held from noon on January 20 until noon on January 21, aimed to draw attention to the plight of 700 refugees on Manus Island.

It was a symbolic gesture that allowed young people from around the country to start conversations with others who were unaware of what was happening on Manus Island at the direction of the Australian government.

The group said: "We are embarking on a national hunger strike in solidarity with the brave struggle of the asylum seekers on Manus Island. We join their protest against the cruel, and inhumane treatment of refugees on Manus Island, Nauru and the camps in Australia. We add our voices to theirs, and demand an end to the violence and neglect of asylum seekers in Australia.

“It is our belief that no human being is illegal, that migration is a human right and that the Australian government should release every person unjustly jailed in the detention centre system.

“We unwaveringly support the right of asylum seekers to protest their illegal imprisonment and echo their demand for an end to the callous policy of mandatory detention."

Those who took part in the action uploaded a photo petition online with personal messages explaining why they were hunger striking.

Sian Cumberland, a co-convener of Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance said: “I’m on hunger strike because refugees are not criminals, [immigration minister Peter] Dutton and [detention centre operator] Transfield is.”
Angus McAllen said: “What we have done pales in comparison to the plight and struggle of the refugees who are putting their lives on the line for freedom.”

Other solidarity actions took place around the country. Fifteen people gathered outside the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Darwin on January 19 to show support for asylum seekers and protest against indefinite mandatory detention. The vigil was called by the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network.

Placards read: “Our government, our responsibility: let us fight for you” and “We know you are desperate but please don’t hurt yourself.”

Rallies were held in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

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