November 28, 2012
Refugee advocates today delivered a coffin and a shovel to Senator Louise Pratt’s office to ask the MP whether a man will have to die before the Labor party adopts a humane policy on asylum seekers.
Refugee Rights Action Network spokeswoman Victoria Martin-Iverson said the “emergency protest” was in response to the re-hospitalisation on Tuesday of Omid, an Iranian asylum seeker on Nauru who has been on a hunger strike for seven weeks.
“The coffin and a shovel is to symbolise the imminent death of Omid, and asking how many deaths it will take before the government abandons this barbaric and inhumane policy,” Ms Martin-Iverson said.
About 30 protesters chanted “Hey Louise we are talking to you, no Manus Island and no Nauru.”
Omid has started refusing water and has not eaten in 49 days. Several men on the island have self-harmed and attempted suicide.
Ms Martin-Iverson said they chose Ms Pratt’s office because the Senator is a prominent activist for asylum seekers and was a member of Labor for Refugees when it existed in WA.
“No point appealing to the morals of those without any,” Ms Martin-Iverson said. She has them. We want to see her use them.”
Ms Pratt said she was disappointed that she was not able to hear the activists concerns as parliament is sitting.
“I would welcome a future opportunity to talk to talk to them”.
In a recent visit to Nauru, representatives from Amnesty International said they found a toxic mix of “uncertainty, unlawful detention and inhumane conditions creating an increasingly volatile situation on Nauru, with the Australian Government spectacularly failing in its duty of care to asylum seekers.”
Following a three-day inspection of the facility, AI researchers found 387 men cramped into five rows of leaking tents, suffering from physical and mental ailments.
“The situation on Nauru is unacceptable,” said AI Refugee Expert Graham Thom.
“The unlawful and arbitrary detention of these men in such destitute conditions is cruel, inhumane and degrading.”