Concerns for health of detainees at Yongah Hill detention centre who are refusing food and water

Concerns for health of detainees at Yongah Hill detention centre who are refusing food and water

THERE are concerns for the welfare of five men detained at Yongah Hill Detention Centre who have been on a two-week hunger strike and are now refusing fluids according to a refugee rights group.

Yesterday more than 40 people, including the families of detainees held at the Northam detention centre, held a protest outside the Perth Immigration Department.

Refugee Rights Action Network spokesman Monty Hill de Monchaux said around 100 detainees have been protesting peacefully for two weeks, with some participating in a hunger strike.

The Australian Border Force has been contacted for comment.

Photo: Simon Stevens Photography

“As of last week, people across the detention network – namely Villawood, MITA, and BITA – have joined them in protest.

“These variegated groups are comprised of asylum seekers, refugees and increasingly, those who have had their visa cancelled on ‘character grounds’ per section 501 of the migration act.

“As of Tuesday night, five men detained at Yongah Hill who have been on hunger strike are also refusing fluids.”

Mr de Monchaux said family members, including children, were suffering because of the forced separation from their loved ones.

“Additionally, we heard from a variety of protesters from within Yongah Hill, who expressed both the particularities of their own conditions of suffering, as well as the need for, and appreciation of solidarity,” she said.

“In the midst of one phone call, a man who had been participating in the hunger strike collapsed on the oval where men had gathered.

“We could hear people on the other end of the phone calling for a nurse.”

Leo Jai who is detained at Yongah Hill said the vast majority of detainees were far from being hardened criminals.

“Many are one-time offenders and many have lived in Australia most of their lives,” he said.

“Many have led lawful, worthy lives but the one mistake they made landed them in a detention centre.

“The concern of deportation hangs over them daily like a dark cloud.

“Suicide attempts and self-harm incidents are commonplace.

“The reason that people are held for indefinite periods in these draconian conditions is that they do not have a piece of paper with the words Australian citizen written across the top.”

Mr de Monchaux said the use of force, isolation, and the lack of clarity over current standing and prospects were widely shared concerns amongst detainees.

“Numerous ineffectual judicial reviews, along with the escalation of the border regime by successive governments demonstrates that the state does not intend to substantively address the system producing this suffering,” he said.

“As the state has demonstrated no political will to radically alter the aforementioned structures, it is incumbent on the general public to elicit this demand.”