by Selwyn Manning
News this evening that the imprisoned hunger striking asylum seekers have called off their protest and had their first meal should be applauded. It is thanks to a High Court judge and a new government elect.
Call this a honeymoon period, but there are signs that the new administration will place people first before bureaucracy.
Today, a High Court judge said the asylum seekers imprisoned in Mt Eden Prison may have rights to remain in New Zealand under our refugee laws, and that an earlier ruling suggesting that they be sent back their country of origin may be wrong.
The 16 asylum seekers have been on a hunger strike for over one month. Some of the men have been passing blood in their urine. Scoop [Auckland] has been campaigning for an end to the Immigration Department/Asylum Seeker stand off. Sacked and former Immigration Minister Tuarike Delamere had insisted that the Asylum Seekers were stalling their application appeal.
Scoop suggested that the then Minister should consider a week inside Mt Eden Prison before suggesting such ludicrous statements.
On Friday Scoop called on acting Immigration Minister Wyatt Creech to meet witht he asylum seekers to establish goodwill and a resolution to the hunger strike - before a death occurred.
He said the government had rights to detain the seekers in prison under New Zealand immigration law and would not meet with the hunger strikers. The Minister insisted that lawyers acting for the asylum seekers were continueing to stall proceedings.
Well, thank God for a change of Government.
Prime Minister elect, Helen Clark, says the asylum seeker's applications must be considered urgently.
She has been talking to Auckland deputy mayor Bruce Hucker who wants the seekers released. Helen Clark says it is wrong that they have been waiting in prison since APEC in September to have their appeals heard.
The hunger strikers called off their fast today and had their first meal this evening. They may be released from prison tomorrow.