Sunday, 7 August 2011

Gillard stands by Malaysia asylum seeker deal as boy leads hunger strike

The small boy whose subdued expression captured the mood of asylum seekers destined for expulsion to Malaysia has begun starving himself on Christmas Island, according to the refugee advocate with unparalleled access to detainees, workers and compounds on the tiny Australian territory.

Asylum Seekers Christmas Island director Michelle Dimasi said the boy, whom she believes was aged seven or eight, had joined men, women and other children in refusing to eat food or take water.

They refused to go to their beds last night and instead slept on the ground outside in the rain, Ms Dimasi said.

The boy was on the front pages of newspapers across the nation yesterday when he was pictured on the jetty at Flying Fish Cove walking to the bus that would deliver him to detention and, excluding extraordinary circumstances, a charter flight to Kuala Lumpur.

The woman with him smiled but his face was blank.

At noon local time today (2pm AEST), the boy and others were lying out in the sun as part of a peaceful protests against their impending deportation, Ms Dimasi said.

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