Lankan refugee hunger strike continues

Lankan refugee hunger strike continues

March 1, 2010   10:11 am


Sri Lankan refugees inside an Indonesian detention centre have entered the second week of a hunger strike aimed at winning them a resettlement deal like that given to the Sri Lankans involved in last year’s Oceanic Viking stand-off.


The 10 ethnic Tamils inside the Tanjung Pinang Detention Centre, on the island of Bintan, began refusing food and water on February 22.


They have been locked inside the spartan facility for almost a year even though all were recently judged to be genuine refugees.


The Tamils from the Oceanic Viking, in stark contrast, spent no longer than two months inside the facility before being resettled under the special Rudd government deal that coaxed them from the Australian ship.


The hunger strikers believe it is unfair that the two groups have been treated so differently.


Eight Afghans in the centre ended their hunger strike at the weekend.


The Oceanic Viking picked up 78 Tamils in international waters inside Indonesia’s search and rescue zone in October and took them to Bintan.


But they subsequently refused to leave the ship and enter the detention centre, sparking a four week stand-off.


The federal government eventually enticed them ashore with a deal that saw them rapidly resettled in countries like Australia,New Zealand and Canada.


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