Iranians’ hunger strike reaches 30 days

Issue 
Several massacres have taken place at Iraq's Camp Ashraf.

A group of Iranians were on hunger strike outside the immigration department in Melbourne on October 19. Local Australian-Iranian man Jahangir Hosseini has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days. Another four women and one man have joined him on hunger strike.

The hunger strikers plan to continue their hunger strike until seven hostages abducted by Iraqi forces are released.

Hosseini called on the Australian government to intervene to secure the immediate release of the seven hostages, six of who are women.

The hostages were seized during a massacre of Iranian refugees in Iraq’s Camp Ashraf on September 1. The massacre was carried out by the Iraqi armed forces on behalf of the Iranian regime. Fifty-two people were killed and seven were abducted.

This has been the fifth massacre of defenceless and unarmed Iranian refugees in Camp Ashraf.

The hunger strikers said that on September 22, after three weeks of silence, Iraq’s National Security Advisor Faleh al-Fayyad admitted the Iraqi government was responsible for the attack.

The UN refugee agency said on September 13: “According to reports reaching UNHCR, seven individuals formerly residing in Camp New Iraq disappeared from the Camp on 1 September, are being held somewhere in Iraq and may be at risk of being returned involuntarily to Iran. These seven are all known by UNHCR to be asylum seekers, and the agency hopes to have an opportunity to interview them.”

Three thousand residents of Camp Ashraf have been on hunger strike for seven weeks. Solidarity hunger strikes are also occurring in London, Ottawa, Geneva and Berlin.

Eleven Melbourne unions visited the hunger strikers for a solidarity protest on October 16 and pledged ongoing support.

The three demands of the hunger strikers are for the release of the seven hostages, that Australia become one of the resettlement countries for refugees from Camp Ashraf, and that that the Red Cross and Red Crescent be given access to Camp Ashraf.

The Melbourne hunger strikers’ plight is being made worse by bureaucratic intransigence.

The government building that houses the immigration department won’t allow the hunger strikers or their families to use the public toilets inside. The Melbourne City Council won’t allow the hunger strikers to erect tents of any shelter on the lawns opposite the building.

The hunger strikers welcome visitors. They are located outside Casselden Place, corner Lonsdale and Spring Streets, Melbourne CBD.