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Fixing Australia

Australia is broken. Democracy has holes in it, cracks in it, and it needs fixing. Since the 2004 Federal election we know that our government is not going to fix it. I think we need to do that fixing, and this blog is a start of getting some ideas together.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Baxter Iranians start second week of hungerstrike

A Hunger striker on the roof of the Baxter detention centreThe hunger strike at the Baxter detention centre has entered its second week, and as the Iranians slowly loose their mind and their physical strength, Project SafeCom remains adamant that the reasons for this hunger strike point squarely at the feet of the Immigration Minister, the Howard government and its "deals" with the Iranian Mullahs and the explicit policies of trying to forget the fact that the Iranians are human beings within the Australian territories, and as such subject to the minimum standards of Duty of Care within Australia as a democracy. Even more than this, the Howard government is trying to forget its obligations under the UN Refugee Convention. Project SafeCom maintains that:

1. All Iranians currently in detention have a well-founded fear of persecution if they're returned to Iran (regardless of whether the Australian government recognises that or not) - and there are mountain-loads of corroborating evidence for this (see the web links in the first report).

2. Consequently, none of the Iranians should be returned to Iran.

3. All of the cases of the Iranians in detention should be re-opened as a matter of the greatest urgency.

We have written to all our supporters, all people in our database, and we have repeated our call through all known and functioning e-lists of refugee groups around Australia.

Baxter Vigil Report-back

Friday 10 December 2004
by a participant

The first Iranian man went up on to the gym roof on Sunday night. the two others joined him on Tuesday. On Tuesday night the three of them endured some of the fiercest storms known to this region. Storms have been a problem ever since...

Today (10/12) we held a "prayer vigil" outside the centre. This was organised within 24 hours! We got approval from the police for 10am-1pm and 4pm-9pm. The SA police arrived at approximately 7:30pm and wrote down all the registration numbers of cars present. They said this was to show back at the station "they had done something"!!! At approximately 8pm another patrol car arrived and stopped about 100 metres away from all of us. The patrol car sat there for approximately twenty minutes and then left the area. This same patrol car returned at 8:55pm, cruised past all of us to a distance of about 300 metres and did a u-turn. When the vehicle had completed the u-turn the vehicle stopped. I can only assume it sat at that distance to observe us leaving the area.

The vigil attracted approximately sixty people in total during the day. Everybody thought this was great given the remote location and short notice. We are hoping to continue with the vigils over the next few days (police will obviously be a problem!).

There was obviously not enough happening in Pt Augusta on a Friday night for two patrols involving three officers, to do except for them to attend a "prayer vigil"...

Recent Statements from the Iranians

Statement from a Baxter detainee, written by "a recent arrival" who has befriended the Iranians
11 December 2004

"Let us die or give us freedom" - is what I hear constantly from The Iranian people at Baxter. I have been here about three weeks and all I see is people suffering from "the DIMIA's blondes". By what I have seen in this short time, is Iranian people are getting lied to time after time.

And the people are getting frustrated and desperate. There is incident after incident here nearly every day; detainees go on hunger strikes. I have been told from the Iranian people that they would rather die than live in here for much longer. These are desperate people just wanting happiness which to them is freedom, which isn't much to ask for, all people deserve freedom.

They were the victims of the Iranian government until they tried to find freedom here. By what I see they are now victims of DIMIA policies, By what I have experienced my self and heard from the Iranian people, DIMIA is NOT dealing with their cases properly, because there is a language at culture barrier, the care offices only write what they want to write, in the Iranian people applications and reports for visas. They have also been magnifying small issues and sending report off to head office which are not totally true.

GSL and DIMIA don't like to let the community and some government department know what is actually happen here. I have never in my life seen so much desperation and loss of hope than in Iranian people that I have met in my short stay here. They are good decent people just wanting an answer. They ask time and time again and DO NOT get answer good or bad from nobody.

I was out in the community and all I knew of the Iranian detainees was that they were only here for a short proud of time. I was absolutely shocked hearing that 99% of the Iranian people have been here a very long times about 5 or 6 years, this is a jail and they done nothing wrong but try to escape their government policies, people in Australia that break the law with horrendous crimes don't never to us long as these people have in detention (jail).

What is wrong with this and how can we change it? In jail people get a release date but the Iranian people are just still here in jail without a release date and the knowing and not getting told anything is taking it's toll an these descent people. "Freedom or let us die" will ring in my ears for a long time after I leave here...

A statement from one of the Iranians who is not participating in hunger strike, speaking to Ms Jane Keogh in Canberra ACT by phone:

"I don't think the men can help themselves any more. You know most of these men Jane; you knew them when they were not so sick and still had some hope. You know they are good people."

"They know the Minister and DIMIA will not respond to pressure but they have no control left to listen to any arguments or reason. They are at the end of their coping and they feel a great powerlessness. Most are affected by the new regulations where the nurses and management are cutting back and not giving everyone their medication."

"These men cannot sleep without their medication and they are nervy and cannot be still. It is like GSL are trying to upset everyone and create trouble. You can see it on the faces of the guards - they are getting ready to take the men off the roof and everyone is on edge wondering when it will happen."

"Most of the men have been here for about four years now and their patience has run out. They are desperate and cannot take any more. Little things set them off, like last week reading in the newspaper about the short sentence given in Australia for someone who deliberately murdered someone and got nine years in gaol. Yet we get indefinite years just for asking for asylum from persecution. The sense of injustice in us is strong. We are every day degraded and humiliated by being locked up and treated like criminals and in the end we will all crumble."

From the Iranians at Baxter
10 December 2004

Note for Hon. Alexander Downer:
Some of the DIMIA officials including the people worked in [the Baxter detention centre] management in the past, especially with very short time of working experience in departmental and dealing with refugee matters, not having gone through a proper character checks and have not been providing correct information to the head department, now are working in foreign countries like Iran (Tehran) & Fiji and some other places for Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It's important for Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to check their occupational history and the personal records and to investigate about their reports - again, due to lot of errors in the reports to the head department while they were working. And it's also important to Australian Affairs.

Baxter protest from the rooftops

The Sunday Age
By Russell Skelton
December 12, 2004

The detainee on the roof of the Baxter detention centre shouts into his mobile phone: "I am a Christian, and I cannot go back to Iran."

Along with two other Iranian detainees, the man, 30, has been staging a four-day rooftop protest at Australia's second-largest detention centre, near Port Augusta.

"I am a Christian convert, if I am deported to Iran I will be killed," he told The Sunday Age. "I have been in detention for five years. I cannot take it any more."

Inside Baxter another 22 detainees have been on a hunger strike for close to a week, and five have stitched their lips as the protest spreads through the group of 66 Iranians being held in long-term detention.

About 40 of the men are believed to be Christian converts who fear that they will be charged with apostasy - renouncing Islam - if they are forced back to Tehran. Apostasy is a capital offence in the Islamic republic.

Others are members of an Arab minority who claim to be discriminated against in Iran.

The man, who asked not to be identified, said the rooftop protest was the only way they could make their plight known to the Australian public.

"We want to be released or sent to a third country so we can apply for asylum there," he said. "Five years in detention is longer sentence that most criminals get in Australia. But we have committed no crime."

He said the protest had been difficult because of heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Immigration officials have declined to comment, but it is believed members of the Federal Government's Immigration Detention Advisory Group will fly to Baxter early this week.

Link to article in The Age

Call for help from Port Augusta RAR

One of the Iranians stiched up his lipsThe Iranian hunger strike at Baxter is continuing, and escalating daily. There are twenty-five men on hunger strike, including three still on the gym roof, despite heavy rain and heat over the last seven days. Five men have sewn their lips together, one is now having medical treatment.

These are the key messages that they and refugee advocates have identified:

• They want the Australian people to know of their long-term detention and lack of clear, fair and transparent asylum process.

• They ask for a review of Iranian asylum claims - based on new information on their original claims, the deteriorating political situation in Iran, and their changed personal circumstances since arriving in Australia (eg becoming Christian/getting married/deterioration in mental health).
• This will be the fifth or sixth Christmas in detention for most detainees.
• "Let us die or give us freedom" - the men are powerless, voiceless and desperate.

Although refugee advocates didn't encourage or instigate the current protest, we recognise the desperation that these men feel and that their actions are a plea for help. One concern many refugee advocates have, is that the broader Australian community often feels repelled by what it sees as extreme and gruesome actions such as lip-sewing.

Our role, as their friends and supporters, is to explain to the public WHY the Iranians have taken these drastic measures.

Our friends in detention need your support and would like us to begin a campaign stretching from now until Christmas Eve raising public awareness and lobbying politicians. With the numbers of friends we can do it!!

Firstly - we want you to help raise public awareness by:

• Ringing talkback radio
• Letters to the editor
• Contributions to local newspapers and group newsletters (eg Church/human rights action groups)

Below are phone numbers for Talkback Radio, and email addresses for and tips for letters to the editor.

Talk Back Radio


Alan Jones 9am Openline/Talkback 13 18 73. Outside NSW (02) 9269 0669
John Laws 9am to 12 noon. Open line/Talkback 13 13 32
John Stanley 12:30pm to 3pm Open line/Talkback 13 13 32
Andrew Harwood 8pm to 12 midnight. Open line/Talkback 13 13 32
702 ABC Talkback: (02) 9333 1000. Email:

ABC Northern Territory
Talkback 1800 801 840 Studio/Talkback (08) 8943 3113

4BC Talk Radio
1116 AM (07) 3833 0000 Email:

Tasmania Talkback 1300 36 1700

3AW Talkback (03) 9696 1278 Email:
Neil Mitchell 8.30am to Midday
Ernie Sigley Midday to 4pm
Keith McGowan 12am to 5.30am
3CR 855AM Talkback (03) 9419 0155 Email:

3AK Derryn Hinch 8am to 11am. Talkback: (03) 9866 8666

774 ABC. Breakfast with Red Symons. Talkback (03) 9414 1774
Mornings with Jon Faine Talkback (03) 9414 1774
Afternoons with Lyn Haultain Talkback (03) 9414 1774
Drive with Virginia Trioli Talkback (03) 9414 1774
Evening Show Derek Guille Talkback (03) 9414 1774
Sunday Show Peter Clarke Talkback (03) 9414 1774

5DN Jeremy Cordeaux
on (08) 8305 1323

5AA (08) 8224 0000

891 ABC local radio: Soapbox 11am-12pm is (08) 8343 4891

Radio Adelaide (08) 8303 5000

Talkback (08) 9221 1233. Fax (08) 9325 4553. Email:

6NR Curtin Radio 927AM. Talkback (08) 9484 1927

Tips on writing letters to the editor:

• Keep it short. 200 words is the absolute maximum. 100 words is good. 50 words is very likely to be printed and can be very powerful if you have a good point. If it is too long and it gets printed anyway they are likely to lop off paragraphs and that may make your letter look pretty silly to people who know the background.
• Stick to one central point. You can not cover every base in a complicated issue in 200 words.
• Keep sentences as short as possible.
• Keep the language plain and simple. Only use long words if you need the precision.
• Statistics often impress some letters editors so throw in some big numbers or percentages but make sure they are accurate.
• Be economical with your words. Go over the letter and take anything out that is repetitive.



The Australian Letters to the Editor:
Australian Financial Review web:

The Age - Letters to the Editor:
Herald Sun - Letters to the Editor:
Sunday Herald Sun - Letters to the Editor:

New South Wales
Sydney Morning Herald - Letters to the Editor:
The Daily Telegraph - Letters to the Editor:

The Courier Mail - Letters to the Editor:

South Australia
The Advertiser - Letters to the Editor:
Sunday Mail - Letters to the Editor:

Western Australia
The West Australian - Letters to the Editor:

The Mercury - Letters to the Editor:

Australian Capital Territory
The Canberra Times - Letters to the Editor:

Newspaper links: Australian newspapers by State AND overseas newspapers: this Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) website has links to Australian newspapers by State and links to the major overseas newspapers. See Very helpful!


We are all the Iranian detainees' residents of Baxter detention center are worried for our lives, we are seeking a safe place to live, and we are all victims of Iranian's radical government.

Some of us have been detained for five to six years indefinitely, aren't we deserved to be free after spending so many years in detention? Each person has his own story that hasn't seriously been considered. Now we want from immigration minister have compassion for this people who are suffering and are in extreme stress and frustration we would love your individual support as we are scared and all have Individual needs/concerns.

From RAR Port Augusta
Sunday 13 December 2004

Immigration Dept won't be swayed by hunger strikes

Monday, December 13, 2004. 9:31am (AEDT)

The Department of Immigration has again warned that hunger strikes at South Australia's Baxter detention centre will not influence its decisions on granting visas to asylum seekers.

A hunger strike at the detention centre is entering its second week, with about 25 Iranian men taking part.

Department of Immigration spokeswoman Sarah Crichton says the detainees have been encouraged to end their action as soon as possible.

"The detainees would be mistaken to believe that this action will assist them to remain in Australia," Ms Crichton said.

"It won't change the outcome of their cases and the department isn't influenced by the course of action that the detainees are taking but detention facility staff are closely monitoring the detainees."

Three men have been on the roof of the centre's gymnasium since last week, while it is believed a handful of others have sewn their lips shut.

Ms Crichton says the protesters, including the group who sewed their lips shut on Friday, have so far refused medical treatment.

"There is a small group who've placed two stitches in their lips and detention facility staff are closely monitoring the detainees and urging them to end their protest," she said.

Rural Australians for Refugees is calling for an independent negotiator be brought in and advocates for the refugees say at least one of the men says he would rather die than continue in detention.

Medical Care Standards for Hunger strikers seriously breached

Project SafeCom Inc.
Narrogin/Fremantle WA
Media Release
Monday December 13 2004 11:00am WST

"Refugee group Project SafeCom says that the Baxter detention centre operator GSL, is in serious breach of medical standards, especially in relation to the management of a hunger strike, not only, but also as laid down by the Declaration of Malta."

Under the declaration of Malta, wrote WA lawyer and Senior lecturer at Murdoch University Mary-Ann Kenny recently in the Medical Journal of Australia,

"....if called upon to treat hunger strikers, medical practitioners should be aware of their ethical and legal responsibilities, and that they should act independently of government or institutional interests."

"At the background of the current hunger strike at the Baxter detention centre, if not leading to it, is the fact that Detention Centre Operator GSL suddenly changed the way medication is dispensed at the Baxter centre."

"A few weeks ago it suddenly announced that medication would no longer be handed out in the compounds, but that detainees had to board a bus to a central location within the Baxter detention centre - once a day - to collect the medication. Although GSL has now reverted to its "pre-bustrip" method of dispensing medication, two question remain:

"1) whether medication, which includes anti-depressants such as Zoloft, is handed out by medically qualified staff or just by GSL staff without the proper qualifications and training, and

"2) whether the apparent change to regularity of times at which medication is handed out has an effect on detainees: you cannot suddenly change times and or frequency of administering medication without expecting major side-effects on the part of clients."

"Reports received overnight indicate that GSL staff have, from 4pm yesterday afternoon (Sunday 12/12), expressly forbidden detainees who wanted to assist, from climbing on the roof to hand bottles of water to the three hunger strikers. This seems to indicate that GSL likes to promote and advance the death of the three hunger strikers who have been on the roof since last week."

Reports have also been received, that GSL staff have "banged on the roof with broom sticks or something" all night on Sunday 12 December to disturb the three hunger strikers on the roof. "If this is the current medical practice to keep hunger strikers from slipping into a coma, we wonder whether third-world standards of medical care would qualify for the Nobel Prize by comparison".

"It seems clear, that a company that protects its accountability under a veil of "commercial-in-confidence" is more interested in whatever its own agenda may be, than in putting the physical and psychological well-being of its clients first, in this case asylum seekers, and especially within this context, long-term detainees on a hunger strike, all of them showing advanced signs of Port Traumatic Stress Disorder."

"It's more than time for an immediate trip to the Baxter detention centre of a team of medically qualified investigators, in addition to an independent negotiator."

Declaration of Malta on Hunger Strikers

For information on the situation of hunger strikers and medical intervention, see
• Medical and Ethical Aspects of Hunger Strikes in Custody and the Issue of Torture
• Legal and ethical implications of medically enforced feeding of detained asylum seekers on hunger strike

Baxter protesters 'being denied water, sleep'

Monday, December 13, 2004. 1:00pm (AEDT)

Refugee advocates say a group of protesting Baxter detainees are being denied water and sleep by centre guards.

One of the three Iranian men has been on the roof of the gymnasium since Sunday last week, with two others joining him on Tuesday.

Rural Australians for Refugees says guards have now stopped other detainees from bringing the protesters water and are throwing basketballs at the roof of the gym to prevent the group sleeping.

Spokeswoman Kathy Verran says the protesters' health is rapidly deteriorating but they are too afraid of being punished to come down.

"I hope that they are hospitalised [and] they have independent psychiatric assessment because if they're sent to management where they're in solitary confinement, that would just be disastrous for these guys who've already endured four years of detention and are severely depressed because of that detention," she said.

The Immigration Department is yet to respond to the claims.

Detainees have access to food, water: Immigration Dept

Monday, December 13, 2004. 3:34pm (AEDT)

The Immigration Department has rejected as false claims that a group of Baxter detention centre detainees staging a rooftop protest are being denied water and sleep.

One Iranian man has been on the roof of the gymnasium since Sunday of last week. The two other detainees joined him on Tuesday.

Rural Australians for Refugees says guards are not allowing other detainees to bring the men water and are stopping the group from sleeping by throwing basketballs onto the roof.

A spokeswoman for the Immigration Department says the claims are untrue and that both food and water are being regularly offered to the detainees on the roof.

Refugee advocates 'incite detainees'
December 13, 2004

THE immigration department today accused refugee advocates of inciting incidents within the Baxter detention centre by exaggerating reports of a detainee hunger strike.

Refugee support group Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) today said 27 Iranians within the South Australian centre were participating in the hunger strike, now into its second week.

Among those were five men who had sewn their lips together and three who were staging a protest on the centre's gymnasium roof, RAR spokeswoman Kathy Verran said.

She said those on the roof had been denied water since last night, after guards stopped other detainees bringing water to the men.

Ms Verran said detainees had also reported the guards were bouncing balls against the ceiling of the gym, underneath the detainees, to prevent them from sleeping.

An immigration department spokeswoman today said food and water were regularly offered to the detainees on the roof.

Claims that balls were being thrown at the gym's ceiling were not true, she said.

The spokeswoman would not detail how many detainees were participating in the hunger strike but said it was fewer than 25.

"This sort of misinformation (from refugee advocates) does not help the detainees," she said.

"Inflammatory, exaggerated remarks have the potential to incite incidents, which is not in anybody's interest."


Link to the AAP/News Interactive article

Hunger strikers sew lips together

CNN World
Monday, December 13, 2004
Posted: 0448 GMT (1248 HKT)

CANBERRA, Australia (Reuters)
-- A hunger strike at an outback Australian detention centre has escalated as it enters its second week with 27 detainees now refusing food -- six of whom have sewn their lips shut -- refugee advocates said on Monday.

A spokesman for refugee group Project Safecom said three of the 27 Iranian men protesting against Australia's refusal to grant them sanctuary were staging their hunger strike on the roof of the Baxter detention centre in South Australia state.

"They have had enough. What is the use of living in a detention centre for up to five years without having any purpose or future? They just want to die and if they do it will be on the government's hands," the Project Safecom spokesman said.

The Baxter protest is similar to one staged by 35 Afghan men held in an Australian-funded detention camp on the Pacific island of Nauru in January, when several detainees also stitched their lips together.

There are 252 people detained in the Baxter camp, which is primarily used for boat people who arrive illegally.

A spokesman for the Immigration Department would not say exactly how many detainees were refusing food at Baxter but said there was less than the 27 quoted by refugee groups.

"A small group have placed two stitches in their lips," the spokesman said.

Australia has one of the world's most strict immigration policies, detaining all asylum seekers, illegal workers and anyone overstaying their visas in guarded camps while their cases are handled, a process that can take years.

Australia has six detention camps on its soil and pays for others on the Pacific island of Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.

The controversial camps, which have been condemned by international human rights groups, have been hit by a string of protests, hunger strikes, riots, escapes and suicide bids.

Link to the CNN World article
Also published in The China Post

Vanstone urged to stop hunger strike
December 13, 2004

LABOR has called on Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone to appoint an independent negotiator to intervene and stop a hunger strike by asylum seekers at the Baxter detention centre.

ALP national president Carmen Lawrence said up to 15 [sic] asylum seekers were participating in the hunger strike, three [sic] of whom had sewn their lips together and three who were staging a roof-top protest on the centre's gymnasium.

She said such instances of self-harm were an inevitable consequence of keeping people in detention without hope of release.

Dr Lawrence said Senator Vanstone remained completely silent about the hunger strike and had made no comment about the wellbeing of detainees for which she had a duty of care.

"Nor, apparently, has she sought to intervene to resolve the problem," she said.

"Let us remember, as we approach Christmas, that these men have been in detention for around four years.

"They should not be left to rot while the minister tucks into her Christmas pudding.

"I call on the minister to appoint an independent negotiator to resolve this situation as a matter of urgency."

Senator Vanstone was unavailable for comment but the Immigration Department accused refugee advocates of inciting incidents by exaggerating reports of the hunger strike.

The department said all protesters had received decisions on their refugee status and had failed in their claims.


Link to the AAP/News Interactive article

UNPO Action Call: Ahwazi in hunger strike

Unrepresented Nations
and Peoples Organisation (UNPO)
>>HOME PAGE >> Ahwazi


Ten indigenous Arab-Iranian asylum seekers in Australia (Baxter Detention Center) have been on "Hunger Strike to Death" for the past 4 days. The Hunger strikers have sewn their lips and refuse to take any food or water. Latest report as of Sunday Dec. 12 indicate that they are getting rather sick and weak.

These political refugees are Arab-Iranian human rights and political activists. They have been detained for nearly 5 years in Australia.

The Indigenous Arab minority in the southwestern province of Khuzestan (al-Ahwaz or Arabistan) has been fighting for the right of self-determination since the annexation and incorporation of their land into the nation state of Iran.

All the asylum-seekers are suffering from severe depression and stress.

The detention centers are high-security prisons, which offer fewer services than ordinary prisons. The asylum seekers are kept in corrugated cages surrounded by monitoring cameras, 9000-volt fences and motion sensors. The United Nations Human Rights Commission described the detention of these asylum seekers as "imprisonment".

The main issue is: They cannot return - but they cannot endure imprisonment any longer.

What alternative is there?

The Australian Department of Immigration should accept the evidence provided by the detainees and their lawyers and REVIEW THEIR CASES IN LIGHT OF THIS EVIDENCE.

We urge all human rights organization around the world to call the Australian Minster of Immigration and/or Australian Embassies or other diplomatic posts to express their disapproval of the inhuman treatment of asylum seekers and for the immediate release of Arab-Iranian political refugees.

Desperate act

The Transcontinental, Port Augusta
Darelle Tasker
Friday, 10 December 2004

In sweltering heat and under the gaze of the world, an Iranian man, believed to be a long term detainee under Australia's border protection policy, is conducting a silent protest on the roof of the gymnasium at Baxter Detention Centre, threatening to end his life rather than be deported to Iran.

The man climbed onto the roof on Sunday night and refused to come down amid the sweltering heat on Monday.

At the time of publication on Tuesday, the man was still perched on the roof.

Local friends of the man, who wished to remain anonymous, stood outside Baxter in support as he carried out his grim protest reminiscent of the scenes at Woomera Detention Centre where detainees jumped from the tops of buildings in protest to their detention.

They said that the man has been detained for about four years, two of which they have been visiting him.

They said the man had been on anti depressant medication and has wanted to cause self-harm for a few years.

"They are all getting really desperate...they're deteriorating in there and they're just getting worse.

"They are all depressed... it's not just this man."

The department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs refused to comment on speculation the man had a history of attempted self-harm or whether he had been given food or water by Baxter guards, despite reports that staff had tried to help the man.

The department also refused to comment on whether the man would be conveyed to a separate facility for mental health treatment, or whether he was facing deportation after failing to receive a temporary protection visa.

Link to The Transcontinental article

Plea to end hunger strike

The Age
By Meaghan Shaw
December 14, 2004

An independent negotiator and psychiatrist are needed to help end the hunger strike at South Australia's Baxter immigration detention centre, now entering its 10th day.

Rural Australians for Refugees spokeswoman Bernadette Wauchope made the call for help, saying advocates were not endorsing detainees' actions but understood their desperation.

At Baxter, three Iranian men are staging a rooftop protest, five men have sewn their lips together and another 16 are refusing food. Three detainees at the Perth detention centre have joined the protest.

Ms Wauchope said the men on the centre's gym roof had told supporters that friends were no longer allowed to bring them water, while guards had been throwing balls at the gym's ceiling to stop the men sleeping.

But an Immigration Department spokesman said the claims were untrue. "Food and water is being regularly offered to those on the roof, while they are on the roof," he said. He also said there were fewer detainees protesting than claimed. The department said the detainees were not found to be refugees and they were refusing to co-operate with plans for their departure.

Ms Wauchope said: "They cannot return to their homeland as they face torture and death."

Link to article in The Age

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