All indefinite detention refugees in the Broad meadows detention center were hunger striking for 10 days. They not only stopped eating but stayed outside for that entire time on the small cricket pitch. Two of my Tamil friends were taken to hospital for severe malnourishment.
I visited them just after the strike finished and it brought tears to my eyes seeing my friends so weak and skinny. Even though they were so tired and still had hunger pain they insisted on bringing me and my friend food and cups of cardamon tea.
Julia Gillard was interviewed on the radio about the strikes and she actually sounded repugnant. She even said that there was no point striking because their 'situation hasn't changed'. If being in detention in a country that is not your own for over 4 years doesn't change your situation - I don't know what does.
Here are a few ways my friends situations have changed:
- They have become suicidal at times - even attempting
- They loved ones have disappeared out of their lives due to marrying someone else
- They have grown 4 or 5 years older
- They are terrified about the future
- They have nothing to live for and no autonomy
All of which they did not expect when they were interviewed by ASIO.
That interview by ASIO about their security was only based on questions put to the refugees and then decided upon based on "well they MIGHT be lying". Talk about 'fair and proper checks' that Julia Gillard spoke of.
The thing is - most people are getting confused with this issue and their fears of 'Australia having not enough room for refugees' - well I say this is a SEPARATE issue because Australia has already accepted these men as refugees - therefore agreeing to protect them and then denies them their human rights. There are currently under 60 indefinite detention refugees in Melbourne - is Australia not big enough for them? The government is spending money on keeping them in detention - why not let them work in the community and contribute to our economy.
The final point being -if you accept refugees it must be Australia's responsibility to treat them within their human rights.