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Hunger Strike Broken

MEDIA RELEASE

Monday 29 November 1999

HUNGER STRIKE BROKEN

The hunger strike by 16 asylum seekers held at Mount Eden prison was broken today following a visit by Auckland City Mayor Chris Fletcher, Deputy Mayor Dr Bruce Hucker, Mr Bill Smith from Amnesty International and representatives from the Sikh community.

They implored the men to break their hunger strike and Dr Hucker delivered a message from the Prime Minister elect the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark.

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor say the men's health was deteriorating and offered their continued advocacy on their behalf.

"All of the men were encouraged by the visit and the commitment to a fair process and on that basis were prepared to end the fast. We are very pleased they were willing to accept our trust and end their hunger strike in our presence," said Mrs Fletcher and Dr Hucker.

Dr Hucker said the message from Helen Clark asked them to keep holding on to hope. "She is concerned about their case and expressed her willingness to explore a proposal to release them into the care of Sikh and other communities. She assured them that their cases would be considered fairly, and requested them to finish their hunger strike," he said.

The Mayor and Deputy were pleased with the manner in which the prison authorities in difficult circumstances had managed the issue with sensitivity. They were given assurances from the Prison that the men in ending their fast would receive medical supervision and appropriate nutritional support.

Following the meeting a ceremony was held by a Sikh priest to mark the end of the hunger strike.

"It was a moving experience as the men broke their hunger strike. With their trust we will now take up advocacy of their cases with the Government."

Ends.

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