A 16-year-old Afghani boy at the Pontville detention centre has been on a hunger strike since Friday. A refugee advocate warns more asylum seekers could join the strike.Source: The Advocate
More asylum seekers could join in a hunger strike at Pontville detention centre unless they are lifted from the “bureaucratic nightmare” of uncertain detention, a Tasmanian refugee advocate has said.
A 16-year-old Afghani boy at the centre has been on a hunger strike since Friday.
The boy told the ABC on Sunday he was acting in protest against being held in detention for seven months because he believed some people he travelled to Australia with had been released.
It is the first reported hunger strike at the centre and comes just two weeks after six detainees were hospitalised in a brawl over a game of pool.
That incident was just a week after a detainee and a detention centre worker were injured in another reported fight.
Tasmanian Asylum Seeker Support founder Emily Conolan said all the incidents could be traced to the uncertainty caused by longer periods in detention, after funding to community detention programs was cut.
Ms Conolan said everyone she visited at the centre said they could cope if they knew how long they would be detained for and could look to the future.
“It’s an act of desperation and a cry for help of people that feel that they have no other option to express themselves but self- harm,” she said.
A spokesman from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said the boy was being closely monitored.