Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

More Asylum Seekers Sew Lips In Hunger Strike On Nauru
Australian PM says protest will not change assessment outcomes

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 25, 2013) – Refugee advocates say nine asylum seekers on Nauru have sewn their lips together as part of a hunger strike over the conditions on the Pacific island.

It is understood one of the protesters is being transported to the Australian city of Brisbane on Monday for specialist care.

The asylum seekers are protesting against conditions in the camp and the wait for immigration processing to begin in the regional processing centre.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the asylum seekers are getting mental health support, but she says the protest is not going to help their cause.

"The first point to make is it doesn't get you anywhere," she said.

"Unfortunately, people sometimes take that step, but I do want to be very clear: having a hunger strike or anything like that it does not change people's outcomes.

"The one thing that happens for people in our asylum seeker facilities is there is a proper assessment of whether they are a genuine refugee."

Last week the Refugee Action Coalition said more than a dozen detainees on Nauru had joined a hunger strike, with four stitching their lips together.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship confirmed that four detainees were involved in an act of self-harm at the facility, but refused to divulge details.

The government reopened detention centers on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island last year to process asylum seekers arriving by boat to Australia.

Radio Australia:
Copyright 2013 Radio Australia. All Rights Reserved

Go back to Pacific Islands Report