Sydney: An Iranian asylum-seeker is recovering after a 40-day hunger strike, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Tuesday, but insisted the near-fatal protest would not influence the government`s immigration policy.
Saeed Hassanloo, 25, is the second Iranian asylum-seeker to take on an extended hunger strike in recent months after a 33-year-old ended a similar protest in January -- both over Canberra`s treatment of their claims for resettlement in Australia.
"I`m advised overnight that Saeed has accepted medical assistance and is on some path to recovery," Dutton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"Obviously he`s got a long way to go but the advice that I have is that he has decided to take fluids or food and he`s speaking to his (immigration department) case manager and his medical team."
Dutton said he was pleased that Hassanloo, who was admitted to Royal Perth Hospital in March, was improving, but the protest would not change the outcome of the case.
He added: "The determination has been made that he is not owed refugee status and he is not going to stay in Australia."
Dutton said people in their millions wanted to come to Australia for a better life but he could not allow those who self-harmed or refused food and fluids to "twist my arm".
"If I was to succumb to that pressure, the strong advice from my department... is that I would have hundreds if not thousands of people on hunger strikes tomorrow," he said.
Refugee advocates say there are about 45 Iranian asylum-seekers in indefinite detention in Australia because they are refusing to return to their homeland after having their claims for refugee status denied.
Iran refuses to accept people who are returned against their will.
Hassanloo, who arrived in 2010, reportedly embarked on the hunger strike after being told his bid for refugee status had been refused and fears persecution if returned to Iran after converting to Christianity.
But Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the Iranian`s case had not been finally determined and the hunger strike was borne out of frustration at the length of his detention.
"The motivation really was the fact that he was in detention and he said, `I just can`t stand another day in detention`," Rintoul told AFP. "He was just being held indefinitely."
Asylum-seekers arriving by boat in Australia have long been subject to mandatory detention while their claims are processed.
Since 2013, Canberra has refused to take asylum-seekers arriving by boat for resettlement at all, sending them instead to the Pacific islands of Papua New Guinea and Nauru.