Nauru refugee’s plea: ‘Stop punishing us’

Refugees in Nauru on hunger strike. Photo: Clint Deidenang

Green Left Weekly’s Alex Bainbridge spoke to an asylum seeker imprisoned on Nauru on November 12 as a hunger strike involving hundreds of detainees reached its twelfth day. His responses are below.

On November 13, most refugees chose to end the hunger strike after news that Amnesty International would visit the camp. Six refugees, including one man who had not eaten for 33 days, were continuing to refuse food.

* * *

This is our twelfth day of hunger strike and 10 to 13 guys collapsed. The guys are feeling very weak. They have dizzy heads. They are laying the whole day on their backs. Until now we didn’t get any response to our hunger strike.

Omid, one of the Iranian guys who [has been] on hunger strike [for] the last 31 days, today I talked with him.

I requested to him to please stop, please stop the hunger strike. He said no, it is better to die instead of living here. And also the doctor advised him that soon your brain and your heart would stop working and we will shift you to the hospital.

[The doctor said] you should give us one guy who, when you go into a coma, he will give us permission to give you treatment.

So he is weak. All the day he is laying on the bed.

Newcomers just arrived today. They were very worried, what we’ve seen on their faces. And some of the guys have also joined the hunger strike.

One thing [that] happened today [was that] one of the guys who was feeling pain in his tooth for the last week. So he was asking for treatment. The doctor told him first you have to eat, then we will give you some treatment.

So today what happened is he naked himself [stripped nakes]. He removed all of his clothes to protest. And the head of security there called police to make him afraid or to make him fear. But he didn’t stop. He was still naked.

One time, the other asylum seekers requested him to wear clothes so at last he wore the clothes.

Four or five asylum seekers made four or five graves like a cemetery. So this is because they have lost their mental control. So that is why they are doing this kind of thing.

To the Australian people I just want to say: Please, we need the help of the Australian people just to raise [your] voices for our rights and to put pressure on the government to just take us back from Nauru.

We are not criminals. We did not commit any sin. So we just want to say stop punishing us and take us back to Australia.

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