Kiwis at Australian detention centre claim hunger strike could affect chances of release

Kiwi detainees on a hunger strike in Western Australia claim they've been told the protest could affect their chances of release.

Within a group of 350 detainees at detention centre Yongah Hill are 50 Kiwis, protesting for the sixth day against indefinite detention.

Some performed a haka on behalf of all those who have decided not to eat - a challenge to those in charge.

"This haka gives us strength. Everything we've tried to do in here has all failed," said Kiwi detainee Paula Maka Smith.

Every detainee's story is different. Some are in the centre for their criminal history, having served at least 12 months in Australian prison.

Others have never committed a crime, but failed a so-called character test.

Lee Barber has been in the detention centre for four years.

"We're all protesting today about going home to our families," he said during a demonstration, which began on Friday morning and stretched into the night.

Some detainees slept under the stars, refusing the budge.

"This hunger strike, we have been doing it since Monday, we've started losing weight because we're having only water," said Issa Andrwas, a Jordanian detainee.

The Australian Border Force denies there's a hunger strike and say detainees are eating outside the mess - something the detainees say is not possible because Serco guards removed all their food.

"They took the food and put it in the office, so you're gonna go beg them for food," said Mr Andrwas.

The protestors also claim they've been told if they keep protesting, they'll be punished.

"Anyone who's protesting, they're gonna ship to different centres, and we're not getting visas, because we're showing the world what's been happening in here," said Mr Andrwas.

Some of the detainees are asylum seekers, many of whom arrived by boat. While they no longer languish on Manus Island, they're still no closer to finding a home.

"All races all together, you know. We're all here together. The system has failed us," said Ms Smith.

A hunger strike at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) ended after a week, with Kiwi Alvin Tuala saying officials agreed to minor improvements of the facility, including curtains for toilets and showers that were built without a door.


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