Refugee Action Coalition MEDIA RELEASE 22 July, 2021 Two Medevac refugees in the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) have been hospitalised in the last 24 hours, after seven days on hunger strike. One refugee was taken to hospital at midnight last night (Wednesday 21 July), and has now been returned to MITA. The second refugee was taken to Northern hospital by ambulance early this afternoon.
Their situation has become more precarious since the hunger strikers are refusing medical attention from IHMS, the detention medical provider. The two refugees are part of a group of 10 Medevac refugees who began their second hunger strike on 15 July. The Medevac refugees began their ninth year in detention, on 19 July, spending six years on Nauru or Manus Island, and two years in detention in Australia. 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. Nightly protests by Medevac refugees are held in the Park Hotel in Melbourne and also in the BITA detention in Brisbane. An eleventh refugee from MITA is seriously unwell in the Northern hospital since being admitted on 21 June, during an earlier hunger strike protest. “The Medevac refugees need freedom,” said Ian Rintoul spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “They were tortured on Manus and Nauru and brought from PNG and Nauru for medical treatment. Not only did they not receive any treatment, they are now getting sicker. “ For more information contact Ian Rintoul on 0417 275 713. Refugees available for comment in MITA and BITA.