Omid

The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) released this statement on May 7.

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Refugee advocates have serious fears for the welfare of Omid, a 24-year-old Iranian refugee from Nauru, who has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days.

His condition has significantly deteriorated since he was hospitalised a couple of weeks ago. He has reached a critical stage in the hunger strike with growing concerns that he may have already suffered some long-term damage to his health.

This election campaign has seen the Coalition blustering that its harsh policies are stopping the people smugglers and deaths at sea, Labor trying to ignore the issue, and the Daily Telegraph running front page headlines such as “The boats are back”.

But standing in defiance for more than 100 days is a group of refugees and asylum seekers protesting inside the Nauru detention centre.

Through low-resolution photos and shaky video footage, images of the protesters have reached the world, despite intimidation from guards and new fences built to keep cameras out.

On April 30, 1500 people rallied in Melbourne calling on the federal government to bring the all the asylum seekers in offshore detention to Australia. The rally was part of a national weekend of action.

The rally was called after the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled that the Manus Island Detention Centre was illegal.

After three years of murders, hunger strikes, mass protests and forcing people to live in some of the worst conditions imaginable, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled on April 26 that detaining asylum seekers in the Manus Island Detention Centre is a breach of the country’s constitution.

In the same week, Omid, an Iranian refugee who had been forcibly resettled on Nauru, self-immolated in front of UNHCR inspectors because he could not “take it anymore”.

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