Christmas Island: Hundreds on hunger strike, seven stitch lips

I June: Around 75 asylum seekers who began their protest in solidarity with Reza Barati last Tuesday are in their sixth day of hunger strike – having slept Saturday night outside their compounds, in the rain.

In response to the protest, Immigration and Serco have locked down the whole of the detention centre, confining hundreds of asylum seekers inside their compounds.

Now the outside hunger strikers have now been joined by up to 300 other asylum seekers, Iranian, Iraqi and Rohingyan, in the locked down compounds. Hundreds are into their fourth day of hunger strike as the anger and frustration grows.

Seven Iranians in Gold and Green compound have also stitched their lips.

The protesters have been on the island for 10 and 11 months.

“We are getting tired with no activity. But they are always warning, you we will be sent to Manus Island or Nauru. We need freedom. The people outside in the rain are calling for freedom,” one asylum seeker said from inside the detention centre.

Many of those outside, some of whom are also refusing liquids, are having difficulty walking, are beginning to feel weak and unwell.

Some asylum seekers are being denied their daily medication because of the lockdown.

The protesters, both inside and outside are calling for contact with the media and the UN to inspect the camp.

“The situation is deteriorating badly on Christmas Island,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The asylum seekers on Christmas Island are collateral damage; the onshore victims of a failing system of offshore processing. Their mental health is already declining, yet they face many more months, and perhaps years, in detention.

“There is no reason the government could not begin their processing, but the government is determined to inflict maximum disadvantage,” said Rintoul.

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