francesca da rimini on Thu, 27 Jun 2002 17:35:19 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Woomera Hunger Strike [x2]

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   Woomera Hunger Strike                                                           
     francesca da rimini <>                           

   woomera hunger strike --update from the Refugee Embassy                         
     francesca da rimini <>                           


Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 10:05:29 +1000 (EST)
From: francesca da rimini <>
Subject: Woomera Hunger Strike

Woomera Hunger Strike,
Reports 1, 2, 3

23 June 2002, by Dave McKay

Delegates from the various social groups incarcerated at the Woomera
Detention Centre met last night (Saturday) to plan a hunger strike in
support of the 85 Afghanians there, many of whom are Hazaras, who are
being threatened with forced deportation in the next few weeks, by the
Australian Government. It is expected that over 100 detainees will
participate in the hunger strike, which was scheduled to begin today
(Sunday). Iranians are taking a stand in solidarity with their brothers
from Afghanistan, because they fear that they will be the next to go.

Representatives of the Afghanians say that there were over 100,000 Taliban
forces in Afghanistan before the US bombing started, and that only about
5,000 of them have been killed. They say that as soon as U.S. forces
leave, the recriminations will resume, and that killings are already
happening in the villages, where U.S. troops have no control over what

Delegates can be reached through three mobile phones being held in the
compounds. The numbers are below:

November Compound, 0407790474
Mike Compund 0438897215 or 0409657399

Ask for Ramatilluh or Hooman in the Mike Compound, or for Ali from the
November Compound.

Some of these people are prepared to fast to their death.

- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Update, 23 June 2002, by Dave McKay

We have just (at 10:30am, Monday, South Australia time) received a call
from a representative of the detainees at the Detention Centre in Woomera,
that a decision has been taken by " two hundred" detainees to join in a
hunger strike. That is almost all of the detainees at the centre. The
detainee representative has asked that this information be relayed to the
media around Australia.

"It is a very serious hunger strike," he said. "For some it will be to the

The representative, from Mike Compound, says that he does not know the
situation for certain in November Compound, where the families are housed,
but he said that approximately twenty people had also chosen to sew their
lips together to symbolise the way that the Howard Government has sought
to silence them and their tragic stories.

The strike is in solidarity with asylum-seekers from Afghanistan who are
being threatened with forced detention in the next few weeks if they
refuse to sign an agreement to leave peaceably. Amongst those being forced
to return are Hazara people, who have been persecuted by the Northern
Alliance as well as the Taliban.

Others say that Oama bin Laden is still alive, and that the Taliban is
still a serious threat in the villages, where they are out of sight of
U.S. troops. And they say that some of the people who have been placed in
power by the Northern Alliance are also guilty of atrocities against their
own people.

A visitor to the detention centre this morning said that she spoke with a
detainee who works in the kitchen and the detainee said that no one came
for breakfast, not even the children.

- --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hunger Strike Update 2pm Monday, by Dave McKay

We have received the following statement from the refugees engaged in a
hunger strike at Woomera Detention Centre, delivered by Rehmatullah, a
22-year-old Afghanian Hazara who has taught himself English since his
arrival at Woomera 18 months ago.

"Our action is to make conspicuous our burden of frustration,
hopelessness, and innocence. We have come here for survival, but it was
worse. We have been stuck in this razor wire hell on many different
pretences. The policy of the Immigration Ministry is thoroughly horrendous
for our survival.

"As humans we are privileged to liberty of life. The prejudiced
medieval-like policy should be eliminated in this 21st Century, which is
not suitable to give a developed and benevolent nation. In this camp the
perseuction has approached the pinnacle of cruelty.

"We request to the Government of Australia, who are struggling against
terrorism in Asian countries. Instead of this they should struggle against
the terrorism of Immigration on innocent refugees.

"Australia is struggling against the people smugglers, but here once
again, we are deceived. We were deceived by the people smugglers from the
dangerous sea waves to here, and now, after being two years in this hell,
we are once again being smuggled by the Australian Immigration back to our
hypocritical governments."

Rehmatullah explained that there was some misunderstanding with the media,
because yesterday only twenty leaders had gone on the hunger
strike. However, after a meeting last night, the hunger strike received
almost unanimous support. All of the detainees have come out of their
rooms and they are seated on the ground in the middle of the compound,
where they will stay until nightfall. They will then enter the mess hall
together for their overnight vigil.

It is believed that the public display is intended to make it clear that
they are not sneaking food in their rooms. He stressed again that the
hunger strike will, for some, be a strike to the death. He said that five
or six children had joined in the strike today, as well as two women. He
was coming from Mike compound, but could not speak for the detainees in
November compound.

>From another source it was learned that people not participating in the
hunger strike have been asked by their delegates to move to an unusued
compound (India compound) so that they will be able to prepare and eat
meals out of sight of the hunger strikers.

Rehmatullah is one of the detainees who signed papers agreeing to go back
to Afghanisatan peacefully. However, he feels that he was deceived into
signing them. He did not elaborate on that.

Phone numbers for the compounds are:

Rehmatullah in Mike Compound: 0409-657399
Hooman in Mike Compound: 0438-897215
Simon or Ali in November Compound: 0407-790474

- ----------------------------------------------------------


Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 18:14:38 +1000 (EST)
From: francesca da rimini <>
Subject: woomera hunger strike --update from the Refugee Embassy


1:30pm, Tuesday, 25 June

We have more accurate information on how the hunger strike is going 
inside the Woomera Detention Centre.

There are 19 detainees who are not participating in the hunger 
strike, including some children and sick elderly people.  However, 
somewhere between 185 and 190 detainees are participating, including 
most of the children.

The detainees have placed their mattresses in the middle of the two 
compounds and they sit on them all day long.  Last night they moved 
into the compound mess where they all slept together overnight.  At 
first light this morning, they moved back out onto the mattresses. 
The children have all been taken out of the "school classes" that 
they normally attend for two hours per day.

There are two banners up for any visitors to the detention centre to 
see.  One very professional banner shows hands struggling to pry bars 
apart, and it says, "U.N.  What is my crime?" and the other says, 
"Staying in the Detention for long time is crime against humanity."

I asked if the children were being coerced into participating, and a 
representative said that they were all participating willingly, 
because they too are suffering as a result of the Government's policy.

I was given the names of two children who would speak to the press to 
express their support for the hunger strike.  One of them, Alamdar, 
has been in detention with his mother and four brothers and sisters, 
for eighteen months and are being threatened with deportation, 
despite the fact that their father had earlier been admitted as a 
valid refugee.  Alamdar is 13 years old, and his English is good.

Another, is Reza (or his sister Shaheen), also from Iran, whose 
mother is recovering from a serious suicide attempt.

You can reach these young people via the mobile phones in the 
compound.  (Note:  These are legal phones, placed there by DIMIA for 
use by the detainees in receiving calls, immediately prior to the 
U.N. visit.)

November Compound:  0407-790-474 or 0409-657-399
Mike Compound:  0438-897-215

There are moves afoot for other Australians to join in a solidarity 
hunger strike on behalf of the detainees, to get the government to 
back down from its threat to deport them forcibly if they refuse to 
sign papers to be re-fouled peaceably.

Dave McKay and Ross Parry
Refugee Embassy
Woomera 5720
Phone: 0407-238805


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