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Hunger strikers plight ignored by Minister

Pansy Wong

National Ethnic Affairs spokesperson

1 October 2000

Hunger strikers plight ignored by Minister

The desperation of the forty hunger striking Asian overstayers in Auckland cannot continue to be ignored by Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel, National Ethnic Affairs spokesperson Pansy Wong said today.

"The hunger strikers are getting noticeably weaker as they enter the fifth day of their strike. Their desperation and determination to continue is only getting worse as they reach the 1 October deadline. Language barriers, fear and time constraints all make it difficult for the Asian overstayers to put together their individual cases to be considered separately by the Minister. This protest is a desperate attempt to bring this to the Minister's attention.

"It is unbelievable that the Minister and her officials are refusing to meet with them and listen to their plight," Mrs Wong said.

National's Immigration spokesperson Marie Hasler and Mrs Wong have written to the Minister putting the case of the hunger strikers but are yet to receive a response.

"The Minister is pretty good at coming up with excuses in the media as to why she can't help the Asian overstayers. Instead of blaming everyone else she should meet with the hunger strikers and listen to their concerns before dismissing them.

"If the Minister wants to offer an amnesty to well-settled overstayers she should at least be fair to everyone and not just those that haven't applied for refugee status. If the Minister is going to let well-settled Pacific Islanders stay she should apply that compassion to others on a fair and consistent basis.

"In opposition Ms Dalziel lambasted others for prejudice against refugee claimants. Is this just another case of 'what you say in Opposition is different to what you do in Government'? I urge Ms Dalziel to listen to the protestors," Mrs Wong said.


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