January 12, 2014
An asylum seeker from Tehran who staged a hunger strike for 53 days last year has resumed his protest, saying he is now acting on behalf of 35 other Iranian migrants who are being forced to return home by the Immigration Department or face indefinite detention, his lawyers say.
The 33-year-old man, who was admitted to the Royal Darwin Hospital with an infected foot as a result of a mosquito bite on Friday, has not eaten since December 27 and has told his lawyers that he will now continue the hunger strike “to the end”.
The man’s lawyer John B. Lawrence said the man, now in his 17th day of the second strike, is wheelchair-bound, on pain killers and antibiotics. Doctors at the Darwin hospital are monitoring the man for a cellulitis condition.
“There is no indication that he is going to change his mind,” Mr Lawrence said.
The man, who initially lost more than 25 kilograms during his strike at Darwin’s Wickham Point detention centre, is now protesting on behalf of 35 other Iranians who are refusing to return voluntarily to Iran, Mr Lawrence said. Under current laws, Australia cannot forcibly return Iranian nationals back to Iran.
The man’s first hunger strike lasting 53 days came to an end on December 21 after refugee advocates said they would submit an appeal to the Federal Circuit Court against his already-failed refugee determination.
But only days after the appeal was lodged, the man told his lawyers that he had “lost all faith and hope” in the Australian immigration justice system, recommencing the protest.
Earlier last year, the man was found not to be a refugee by the Refugee Review Tribunal. He has previously told Fairfax Media via an intermediary that he would be imprisoned or murdered if he is sent back to Tehran.
The Immigration department have consistently stated that asylum seekers were expected to depart from Australia if they had exhausted all “outstanding avenues to remain in Australia and have no lawful basis to remain”.