Hunger strikes

Support for the more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, which began on April 16, continues to grow across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, despite the more than 1500 prisoners on hunger strike getting almost no reaction from mainstream media.

A record number of Palestinian prisoners began a hunger strike to coincide with Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on April 16.

More than 1500 prisoners are taking part in the largest mass hunger strike in recent years. Marwan Barghouti, sentenced by Israel to five life sentences, is leading a renewed campaign to draw attention to the conditions Palestinian prisoners face.

It also aims to highlight the oppressive nature of Israel’s colonial occupation that makes arrests of Palestinian people all but inevitable.

Muhammad Allan and Uday Isteiti. Picture: Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. Khader Adnan, Palestinian political prisoner and former long-term hunger striker, won his release from administrative detention this year. In a video issued on July 19, he called for action to support fellow hunger strikers Muhammad Allan and Uday Isteiti.
A picture of Saeed Hanssanloo

Twenty-five-year-old Iranian asylum seeker Saeed Hanssanloo was reportedly improving with medical assistance after ending his hunger strike on April 7. Hanssanloo began refusing food more than 40 days previously when he learnt his asylum claim had been rejected.

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on February 5. *** Fifteen Iranian asylum seekers are on their 19th day of hunger strike in Darwin’s Wickham Point detention centre. Meanwhile, Martin, who has been on hunger strike since November last year, is very weak and close to death. Martin and the 15 are part of a group of about 35 Iranian asylum seekers who are being held indefinitely in detention. The government is unable to remove them to Iran because the Iranian government refuses to accept forced removals from Australia.
The Cross Border Collective released this statement on January 28. *** Thousands of men, women and children held in Australia’s detention camps are growing increasingly desperate in their second year of incarceration in camps described as “hellholes”.

Twenty-two members of Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance initiated a 24-hour hunger strike in solidarity with the hunger-striking refugees on Manus Island. The action, held from noon on January 20 until noon on January 21, aimed to draw attention to the plight of 700 refugees on Manus Island. It was a symbolic gesture that allowed young people from around the country to start conversations with others who were unaware of what was happening on Manus Island at the direction of the Australian government.

The shocking bipartisan cruelty towards refugees and asylum-seekers continues to expose the moral bankruptcy of the federal coalition government and the equally culpable ALP opposition. The latest despicable acts of criminal neglect and denial of human rights by our government towards asylum-seekers have been tragically playing out in a Darwin detention centre and in the Australian detention centre on PNG’s Manus Island, to our daily horror and disgust. Iranian asylum-seeker “Martin” is now at a point of no return after more than 80 days on hunger strike in a Darwin detention centre.
There is one message refugees in the Manus Island detention centre want Australia to hear: we need help. In a letter written on January 20, a group of asylum seekers taking part in a mass hunger strike wrote: “In here alarms are ringing but heartless politicians are still indifferent.” They said they were writing “from the heart of Manus” as the hunger strike entered its “ninth day and it will continue”. “We will continue our push until we reach our ultimate goal, which is freedom.”
On January 21, hundreds of people rallied in Melbourne in support of the ongoing hunger strike on Manus Island. Katie Roberston, a social justice lawyer said "What is going on in Australia when people in New York are rallying against our human rights abuses. Our government does not respect human rights in relation to refugees and it is getting worse everyday. The Immigration Minister can bring these people back to Australia but he chooses not to."
The statement below was released by Resistance Young Socialist Alliance on January 20. *** Popular concern grows for the well-being of refugees in detention, as more than 700 asylum seekers on Manus Island enter their eighth day of hunger strike, and up to 200 are suffering dehydration. Witnessing an outpour of reports detailing increasingly desperate acts of self harm, the Australian public stands up to say enough to the torture of refugees, and calls on the Coalition government for compassion.
Hunger-striking refugee 35-year-old Omid Sorousheh's desperate plea to be recognised as a refugee in Australia has been treated with contempt by immigration minister Chris Bowen, despite clear indications that he was close to death. Omid has been on a hunger strike for 50 days on November 30. That day it was reported he had been finally airlifted from Nauru and returned to Australia.