Iraqi asylum seekers on hunger strike ‘to death’

Posted by admin on Apr 5th, 2010

April 5, 2010, Sydney Morning Herald

Iraqi refugees on hunger strike on Christmas Island. About 10 Iraqi detainees were pledging yesterday to maintain a hunger strike until death, in the latest eruption from distressed asylum seekers at the Christmas Island detention facilities. The incident comes a day after a larger group of more than 20 asylum seekers pledged a hunger strike, and a violent incident in which sources said a man punched and kicked a security guard. After a day of intermittent but heavy rain on the Indian Ocean island, nine men could be seen under unfurled banners in the high-technology detention centre at North-West Point. This morning the government will fly another charter plane of asylum seekers off the island. A source said they would include about 50 people whose claims for protection have been rejected.

Earlier, a spokesman for the Immigration Department confirmed an incident on Saturday night that involved 25 men.

He confirmed that another man had broken a window and a TV. It is understood the man lashed out at Serco security staff after his application was rejected.

”Last night a small group of detainees, around about 25, held a peaceful protest,” a departmental spokesman said yesterday. ”The protest was passive and there were no violent or destructive incidents. Staff at the centre and the detention service provider spoke to the group and encouraged them to return to their accommodation, which they did shortly after.”

The spokesman said the broken TV and window was a separate incident. Last night a spokesman said no security guard had been hurt in the incident. A source said a man became violent on Saturday and again yesterday after being rejected for asylum.

At the North-West Point centre a whiteboard appeared to list where the asylum seekers were being housed among the three centres. It included 1547 at North-West Point, 143 at Phosphate Hill and 318 at Construction Camp.

The banners indicated the group was distressed about the possibility of being returned to Iraq. ”We are on hunger strike until death,” said one.

”No, no, no, to rejection. Yes, yes to freedom,” said another.

”Immigration!!! Please be merciful with Iraqis. Iraq is the country of terrorist troops and blood – thus where is human compassion and justice???,” said the third.

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