Refugees on hunger strike make public appeal

Scherger detention centre.

Asylum seekers in Scherger detention centre in north Queensland launched a hunger strike on the morning of July 21.

By the afternoon of July 22, 67 asylum seekers had joined the hunger strike. Most of the protesters are ethnic Hazaras from Afghanistan.

The asylum seekers released the statement below on July 22.

* * *

In the Name of Merciful God,

This hunger strike is a response to the continued pressure exercised by the Australian Immigration Department on us.

The participants in this hunger strike have been denied protection and robbed of their liberty for periods of time extending to over a year, even up to 20 months.

This punitive action and arbitrary jailing, has destroyed our physical and mental health.

Our families — including our children — living outside detention and overseas have suffered additionally from the terror of the Taliban, and the tyrannies of other dictators and regimes.

Daily sadness and additional trauma that we are exposed to remains unknown to certain officers and Immigration Merit Review members.

These members are neglecting our claims, the reasons for our claims, the arguments that we have supplied, and the documents available to them. They have consequently failed to reach a comprehensive humane and just decision.

We are locked in a “no man’s land”, inside a military base where average people and the media have no access to us.

Our friends and relatives cannot reach us and we have to accept the blame of officials, and the suggestion that “you are not looking after your case”.

Our treatment in this way is very hideous and painful. They are melting us in a bureaucratic oven, and pushing us through cracks in the law. All the while, money-makers are making their money and we have to suffer indefinitely and infinite trauma.

We have to suffer for such a long time, because you want to send messages to the opportunistic smugglers. You have punished us more than enough and the smugglers will have received your messages. Be happy.

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