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Bartlett finishes fast, continues fight for justice.



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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Andrew Bartlett Deputy Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Queensland Australian Democrats spokesperson for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Dated: 22 December 2004 Press Release Number: 04/1156 Portfolio: Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Bartlett Finishes Fast, Continues Fight For Justice

Queensland Senator Andrew Bartlett has finished the fast he began last week in support of the asylum seekers in Baxter, handing over to other Australians who will go without food in support of the detainees plight.

Senator Bartlett ended his fast at a protest outside the Immigration Department offices in Brisbane. Speaking at the protest, he said he was pleased that the imprisoned asylum seekers have felt supported by this action and pledged to continue to work with thousands of other Australians in ensuring justice is done.

"I encourage detainees to conclude their own hunger strike, knowing that some of their many supporters in the Australian community will carry that small part of their ongoing burden for them. The asylum seekers have already suffered enormous damage to their health from being locked up for so many years by the Government. I dont want them risking more harm to their well-being."

"As usually happens when it is criticised, the Government resorted to personal attacks, with the Immigration Minister, Senator Vanstone, attacking my protest as 'silly' and sending a bad message.

"I believe it is the Government who is guilty of sending a bad message by keeping innocent people locked up for years. Our country was once known across the globe as a defender of human rights, now we're an abuser of them."

The people taking over fasting from Senator Bartlett will be part of an ongoing rolling strike into the New Year, with each person going without food for a maximum of three days. Doctors have agreed to provide medical advice and supervision if necessary.

Senator Bartlett said he believed his protest had served its purpose of drawing greater attention to the suffering and plight faced by the many detainees still imprisoned in Baxter, Christmas Island and Nauru by the Australian Government.

"It shouldnt need actions like this to draw attention to such disgraceful abuses of our rights and freedoms. However, after battling hard all year with limited success to get action and attention on the trauma being inflicted on these people, the fact is that this action has generated far more attention on the issue. I have received well over a hundred messages of support, from people all over the world.

"The task remains to build greater public understanding of the massive harm being done to innocent people."