MEDEVAC Refugees Re-Start Hunger Strike Protest

Refugee Action Coalition

Media Release 17 July 2021


A group of medevac refugees at MITA (Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation) have re-started their hunger strike protest to demand their release from detention.

It is understood that up to 12 refugees are refusing food since last night, Thursday 15 July.

Their protest comes less than two weeks since they ended a 15 days long hunger strike on 3 July.

Monday 19 July marks the beginning of the ninth year of Offshore Detention Mark II, begun by the Rudd Labor government in 2013. It marks the beginning of the ninth year of detention of the Medevac refugees still held in detention centres and hotels in Australia.

“We are very tired,” one of the hunger strikers told the Refugee Action Coalition, “Next Monday, we are nine years in detention. No-one can tell us why. Since our last hunger strike, we did not get any answers.”

Around 90 of the 193 refugees transferred under the Medevac legislation are still in detention two years since they were transferred to Australia from Nauru and PNG.

Over 100 Medevac refugees were released on bridging visas between December 2020 and February 2021. But only one who has since been flown to the US for resettlement has been released since February.

Despite government announcements in February that it was government policy to release the medevac refugees, Minister Karen Andrews has refused to say why releases have stalled, or give a timetable for their future releases.

A series of Federal Circuit Court cases have revealed that many of the Medevac refugees have not had any medical treatment since being transferred to Australia. The government is also armed with the June High Court decision in ALJ20 that found that even if the government was not holding them for the ‘temporary purpose’ of their transfer or making any arrangements for their removal, their on-going, indefinite detention was lawful.

“The Medevac refugees have been the victims of offshore detention, and are now just pawns in the government’s political games. There is no explanation for why half should have been released and half are still in detention,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“After eight years, they are running out of hope. The resignation syndrome that brought many of them to Australia, is once again engulfing them. They need freedom.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713