Refugee Action Coalition
MEDIA RELEASE 29/07/2021
Concerns are growing for the welfare of 10 Medevac refugees in the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) who have been on hunger strike protest since 15 July, demanding their immediate release from detention.
Three of the hunger strikers are now in the Northern Hospital.
Two were hospitalised on 22 July; a third refugee was taken to hospital by ambulance last night (Wed 28 July). Another two protesters have been hospitalised in recent days for up to 24 hours before being discharged and returned to MITA.
All of the current hunger strikers had also been on hunger strike protest from 17 June to 3 July. Their situation has become more precarious since the hunger strikers are refusing medical attention from IHMS, the detention medical provider.
Around 90 Medevac refugees were released between December 2020 and February 2021. At the time, then Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, said that detention of the Medevac refugees was ‘too expensive’. But releases abruptly stopped in February.
The hunger strikers are demanding their immediate release from detention. ”We cannot live in detention any longer,” one of the hunger strikers told the Refugee Action Coalition, “We still have no explanation why we are still in detention and others were released six months ago. There is no difference between our cases.”
Home Affairs minister, Karen Andrews, has declined to provide any explanation or give a timeline for their release.
The Medevac refugees began their ninth year in detention, on 19 July, after spending six years on Nauru or Manus Island, and then two years in detention in Australia, after being brought to Australia for medical treatment.
Medevac refugees held in the Park Hotel in Melbourne and in BITA in Brisbane are staging nightly protests demanding their release.
“The Medevac refugees need freedom. Those still in detention are being arbitrarily detained,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “They were tortured on Manus and Nauru. In 2019, they were brought from PNG and Nauru for medical treatment. Now they are being tortured in Australia. Not only did they not receive the treatment they needed, they are now getting sicker.”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713. Refugees available for comment in MITA and BITA.