Hunger strike asylum-seeker in Australia pleads not to be revived

Hunger strike asylum-seeker in Australia pleads not to be revived
Protesters hold placards at the 'Stand up for Refugees' rally held in central Sydney.

SYDNEY - An Iranian asylum-seeker on hunger strike for almost seven weeks after being denied a visa in Australia has asked not to be revived if he loses consciousness, his lawyer said Friday.

John Lawrence said the 33-year-old had been in Australia for more than four years, but was now in legal limbo after his application for a protection visa was denied and he has refused to return to Iran.

"He basically falls into a Kafkaesque-like black hole or no man's land by virtue of being refused an application for a protection visa," Lawrence told AFP.

Lawrence said the asylum-seeker, who is being held in immigration detention in the northern city of Darwin and who has not been named for privacy reasons, had been encouraged to return voluntarily to Iran but refused.

The man, who has been on a hunger strike since Nov 1 and has lost more than 20kg, believes he will be killed if he goes back to Tehran, he said.

Lawrence said Australia could return asylum-seekers to their home country involuntarily, but the Iranian government refuses to accept people who are returned against their will.

"Therefore the law requires that he remain in detention indefinitely," he said.

Lawrence said the man was weakening and complaining of aches in his joints and limbs but was determined to continue his protest.

"He is protesting on his own behalf but he also told us there are 35 Iranians in the same limbo," he said.

"He gave his instructions...he doesn't want to be revived."

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison was not immediately available but earlier told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation there would be no comment on the case for privacy reasons.

President of the Australian Medical Association in the Northern Territory Rob Parker said the man's symptoms were concerning and a degree of organ failure was likely.

"It probably indicates his brain is not getting the blood sugar and nutrients to function effectively," he told the ABC.

Australia has faced criticism for its treatment of asylum-seekers who arrive by boat, including their mandatory detention.

Since July 2013, it has refused to resettle them in Australia, sending them instead to Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the Pacific.

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