Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

Hunger strike as punishment continues on Manus

Amnesty International has called out Australia’s refugee policies, saying that they compromise people’s right to life. This comes after reports of a hunger striking refugee on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island being moved to a hospital in Port Moresby. The hospital cannot provide the man with adequate healthcare.

Late last month, the diabetic and hypertensive Iranian asylum seeker refused food for three weeks in protest over Australia’s neglect. Since arriving on Christmas Island in 2013, the man has had a long history of medical problems.

He was originally sent to Australia for medical treatment where he lived for several years, meeting and marrying his wife who is an Australian citizen. While the man is reportedly eating again, there are ongoing concerns about the ability of the Port Moresby hospital to treat his conditions.

The situation is dire for all those still on Manus, where the new Australian-built and controlled refugee centres nearer to the Lorengau township have poor facilities and few services. Health services to cater for chronic conditions and mental health issues are particularly limited.

While the centres are poorly equipped, they cost a fortune to run. The running costs are in addition to the bill of $70 million the government has agreed to pay to the nearly 2,000 refugees it held in the Manus detention centre. This is money that would have been better spent allowing the asylum seekers to settle in the Australian community.

The Socialist Party demands:

– Immediately close all detention centres and allow refugees to live in the community.
– Use the money wasted on mandatory detention and offshore processing to create jobs, build homes, and provide services for all, including asylum seekers.
– For the trade union movement and community groups to wage a mass campaign of direct action to end the government’s inhumane refugee policies.
– Build a political alternative to the major parties, a new left party that puts people before profits and fights for refugee rights.

By Amy Neve

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