150 asylum seekers on hunger strike at Pontville detention centre

January 23, 2012
Photo: Peter Boyle.

The Refugee Action Collective released the statement below on January 24.

* * *

Frustrations over the immigration department’s reneging on promises of community detention and bridging visas for long term detainees have spilled over to the Pontville detention centre in Tasmania.

Around 150, more than half of the Afghan asylum seekers at the detention centre, are now involved in a hunger strike. The asylum seekers have been in detention between 15 and 33 months.

“We have been a long time in detention with no result,” one Pontville asylum seeker told the Refugee Action Coalition on Monday night. “Immigration told us that we would get community detention and bridging visa to get us out, but there is nothing. We have been waiting too long.”

A smaller group of about 34 have been on hunger strike for seven days. So far, at least three of them have been hospitalised.

In the last two days, the hunger strike has been joined by over 100 other Hazara asylum seekers.

The Refugee Action Coalition has been told that even more asylum seekers could join the hunger strike.

“The government has reneged everywhere on its promise to release detainees on bridging visas or community detention. The announcement was a cruel hoax,” said RAC spokesperson, Ian Rintoul. “There is nothing like 100 visas a month being issued and tensions are growing in all the detention centres.”

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