Hunger Strikers Hospitalised
Two asylum seekers on hunger strike have now been hospitalised. In a statement from Nauru, people say that they are prepared to die.
Their press statement reads:
“It is almost two months that we are protesting peacefully and having hunger strikes and still one asylum seeker by the name of Omid has been on hunger strike from last 38 days has been shifted to Nauru hospital on 16/11/2012 because of bleeding. He is refusing having dripped and he prefers to die instead of living in Nauru Hell.
One another asylum seeker by the name of Wasam after having hunger strike from eight days has lost one kidney and has been shifted to Nauru hospital. Asylum seekers are not being transferred to the hospital until they did not loss one of the organs of his body.
Five other asylum seekers are on hunger strike from last 18 days they are under their tents. The medical staff are waiting, when they loss one of organ of their body then they will be shifted to hospital. The medical staffs here are not satisfied from the medical facilities of Nauru hospital but they have no option they have to do it” (Source)
A spokeswoman for the Australian Immigration Department said the asylum seekers were taken to hospital for “further assessments”. She declined to provide further information.
Meanwhile, a group of 14 asylum seekers charged with 'riot' offences appeared in court today. The charges carry jail terms of between two to seven years. A fifteenth man was excused appearance as he is currently in hospital. The court appearance is a result of a protest at the camp on 30th September, a protest which was described at the time by the Immigration Department as a "minor disturbance".
Today the 14 men sat outside the court for nearly two hours, refusing to leave the bus they were in. The men were to be represented by a lawyer that they had not met.
The stand-off ended after a lawyer that the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition had arranged to monitor the proceedings, agreed to represent the group. However, the lawyer will be unable to represent all the men at trial. The case was adjourned until February next year.
As the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition pointed out, "There is no law to process asylum seekers, but plenty of law it seems to persecute them".
While Omir has been on hunger strike and the charges were drawn against the fifteen men on Nauru, PM Julia Gillard told the UN in New York that, "Australians are big-hearted people. We care about humanitarian disasters ...."
And at the same time there have been the continual pattern of roof-top protests in the detention centres across Australia. There have also been more suicide attempts and self-harming incidents in the camps in both Australia, Nauru and Christmas Island. (On Christmas Island guards carry knives to cut down the people attempting to hang themselves.) One person attempting suicide was granted refugee status in 2009 but is still detained as ASIO will not give him a security clearance.
People failing an ASIO security check cannot be released into Australia territory; currently there are officially over 50 people detained indefinitely in the camps, including six children detained with their families.
During the same time that Gilliard was talking about the 'large hearted' Australians, asylum seekers have also been deported back to their countries of origin and then subsequently arrested.
And reports are that very soon asylum seekers, including families, will be sent to Manus Island in Papa New Guinea.
The sad thing is that the persecution of refugees by the Australian government is not new. Australia has a dismal history when it comes to assisting people seeking asylum. It is one of the only so-called 'western countries' that has a policy of mandatory detention. But it is a policy that other countries, including the NZ government, are wanting to follow. A Bill currently before the NZ Parliament calls for mandatory detentions 'of group arrivals'.
It is past the time to end this madness and to close all the centres now.