Broken promises: after one year, forgotten asylum seekers hunger strike in Darwin

| November 30, 2015 | Reply

Sixteen, out of a group of 27, asylum seekers brought from Nauru a year ago to be released, have begun a hunger strike in the Darwin detention centre at Wickham Point to draw attention to their plight.

The sixteen (11 Palestinian, 1 Iraqi, 2 Lebanese) began the hunger strike nine days ago. Three of the Palestinian hunger strikers were hospitalised on Sunday 29 November. Out of desperation, both of the Lebanese cut their wrists on Saturday night.

The 27 were among the asylum seekers who were charged after the riots on Nauru in July 2013, which substantially destroyed the original detention centre.

No evidence about any involvement in the riot was ever presented against them. In September 2014, they were offered a deal to get off Nauru. At the time, they had already been waiting 14 months for a trial to clear their names.

They were told that if they pleaded guilty to ‘unlawful assembly’, no conviction would be recorded.

They were told that after some community service on Nauru, they would sent to Australia and be released while their refugee claims were assessed in Australia.

The 27 were brought to Australia on 1 November, 2014 and expected to be released on bridging visas by Christmas 2014. A year later and they are still waiting; and are still being told their applications for bridging visas are on Peter Dutton’s desk.

All the other asylum seekers who had been held in Nauru prior to July 2013 have been released on bridging visas and are living in the community.

On 10 October, 2015, around 11 asylum seekers from Nauru, who had similarly been charged after the riot, but who were only transferred to Australia in April 2015, were released.

“The injustice is obvious. The department of immigration has broken the promises made to these asylum seekers. Everyone who followed the case, understood that they would be released on bridging visas a year ago,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“These guys should be released. There is no excuse for keeping them in detention. It is arbitrary detention and bureaucratic delay at its worst.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 2715 713.

Category: Press releases

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