The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) is deeply concerned about the physical and mental well-being of the Tamil refugees currently on hunger-strike in Melbourne. Two men on hunger-strike were admitted to hospital yesterday, one with internal bleeding and another who is diabetic but is declining medical treatment.

“The act of indefinite detention is soul-crushing. It squeezes out any hope of a normal life and leads to severe mental health issues. It is utterly inhumane and many of these men, women and children who have already experienced trauma in their home countries do not deserve to be mentally tortured even further,” said Mr. Bala Vigneswaran of the ATC.

“It is time to question one’s conscience and make policies that are humane. We call on the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and the Attorney General to act as matter of urgency to bring an amicable solution immediately for those on the hunger-strike and a just solution for all in indefinite detention. The ATC will be ready to provide any assistance to the Department and the genuine refugees so as to avoid any further deterioration in the physical and mental well-being of these people,” he added.

There are nearly 60 recognised refugees in Australia detained indefinitely following adverse security assessments by ASIO. Most of them are Tamils. There are four women and seven children among these long-term detainees. Two women have delivered children while in detention, and two women lost their husbands who were killed in the final stages of the war in the island of Sri Lanka. All their children, who are also in detention with them, are less than 10 years of age.