The Refugee Action Collective released this statement on April 11.
The Refugee Action Collective (RAC) and refugee supporters will begin an ongoing vigil, with tents to stay overnight, outside a detention centre in Broadmeadows from 6.30pm on April 11.
Long-term refugee visitors are growing increasingly concerned for the welfare of the hunger strikers, two of whom have now been taken to hospital by ambulance. One has now been returned to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation detention centre (MITA) after having refused medical treatment.
“We are calling for the immediate release of all refugees with ‘negative’ ASIO assessments”, said Feiyi Zhang from RAC. “These are Australia’s political prisoners, they have committed no crime, but face indefinite detention. Most have been in detention over 3 years, some for over 4 years."
All hungers strikers are on "dry" hunger strike, they are refusing appeals to eat or drink, and face permanent health damage or death.
“They have clearly reached breaking point” said Daniella O’Lea from RAC. “Their hopes were raised by the prospect of review, then dashed when retired judge Margaret Stone confirmed that the reviews would take months, and leave ASIO and the immigration minister making the final decisions.”
“The damage done to these refugees by years of indefinite detention is a direct result of government policy. Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor has the power to release them all. We call on him to show some humanity and prevent further harm by releasing all the ASIO ‘negative’ refugees”
[The vigil will be held from 6.30pm Thursday, April 11 until further notice. The address is Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, Corner of Centre and Main Roads at Maygar Barracks - 150 Camp Road, Broadmeadows.]
A letter from the hunger-striking refugees and background information on the strike can be read here.