November 04, 2012
The Refugee Action Coalition says asylum seekers taking part in a hunger strike at the Nauru detention centre are prepared to die for the cause.
The hunger strike has now entered its fourth day, with protesters calling for better treatment at Nauru and more information about when their claims will be processed.
The Refugee Action Coalition’s spokesman, Ian Rintoul, has been in contact with asylum seekers on the island.
He says 300 people are refusing food and water, and 25 have collapsed and required medical treatment.
“They said rather than die day-by-day, they’d rather die fighting for their rights,” he said.
Mr Rintoul said the hunger strikers have had no response from the Department of Immigration.
He says the department is risking lives by not responding to the demands of the asylum seekers.
“They want their processing to begin immediately, I don’t know whether just seeing someone from the department would be sufficient,” he said.
“I think that the Immigration Department would have something to say to them I think about how long they are going to be there and when their processing is going to start.
“So the ball, it’s really in the Minister’s court in that respect.”
A department spokesman has confirmed to the ABC that a peaceful protest is underway on Nauru and no one has yet been taken to hospital.
The department added it did not know exactly how many people are taking part in the hunger strike.
The strike comes as another group of asylum seekers on the island opt to return home to Sri Lanka rather than stay on Nauru.
The Immigration Department says 11 Sri Lankan men have decided not to pursue their asylum claims.