Melbourne rallies to support Manus hunger strike

Issue 
Protesters blocking Lonsdale Street in Melbourne. Photo: Rhys Mosbey.

A rally was held in Melbourne on January 16 to support refugees protesting in Wickham Point detention centre near Darwin and Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

Many of the asylum seekers are on a hunger strike and it is feared that a 33-year-old Iranian asylum seeker may have only days to live.

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

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

Manus Island detention centre is engulfed in the largest protests in a year, as more asylum seekers join the hunger strike.

There are now around 300 people on hunger strike in Mike compound and around 170 in Foxtrot compound.

Between 30 and 40 people have now stitched their lips together. Four Pakistani asylum seekers were taken to the medical centre after swallowing washing powder. Another two Iranian asylum seekers have swallowed razor blades.

Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said: "Our government is making a terrible mistake. Unless the Government shows some compassion, a man will die. People have come here seeking our protection and wound up dead: Reza Berati, Hamid Kehazi, the many who have suicided. It is in their hands to save a life. We need to push those hands."

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