16 January: Family groups have joined a hunger strike on Christmas Island as protests spread to three separate compounds.The hunger strike began last week in the single adult male compound at north-west point, where some detainees also sewed their lips together.
A second hunger strike began at the Aqua family compound on Tuesday, according to detainees at the centre. The detainees have put up a banner bearing the word “freedom”. It is not clear whether children are also involved in the protest.
A third group are also protesting in the Lilac facility, which houses men and women. The protesters there staged a sit-in protest and wrote a letter to the Department of Immigration complaining about their treatment and expressing their fears of being sent to Nauru.
The protest was initially sparked by the separation of some asylum seekers from family members.
The immigration minister, Scott Morrison, said the government did not comment on instances of self harm.
“We don’t want to encourage other people to do things to themselves and we certainly don’t want to establish a precedent whereby, in undertaking such behaviour, they think it will somehow give publicisation to their case, or indeed may change the outcomes of their case,” he said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
“So I want to be really clear, when people engage in protest activity it does not change what will happen with their case or where they will go.”
There are currently more than 2000 asylum seekers at various facilities on Christmas Island.