Australia denies mass immigrant hunger strike

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia denied that hundreds of immigrants have gone on a mass hunger strike at a facility in Melbourne, while insisting conditions at the facility are not “inhumane or brutal”.

Days after detainees and activists declared a hunger strike in a protest against living conditions, the Australian Border Force said there was no “mass hunger strike” at Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation.

“While some detainees are refusing to attend regular meal times as part of a protest, they continue to eat and drink in other parts of the facility,” the border force said in a statement.

But activist Ian Rentoul of the Refugee Action Coalition said the “hunger strike protest” was now in its fourth day.

Detainees launched the protest over complaints of prison-like conditions and limited privacy.

New Zealander John Vaofusi, 30, who lost automatic residency rights after being convicted for assault, earlier told AFP he would continue the hunger strike “until we see some change”.