#Closethecamps: Thousands rally against Australian offshore detention camps

  • Posted on: 28 August 2016
  • By: Staff Writers

Thousands of Australians have protested against the government's use of offshore detention camps to process illegal immigrants, with marches held across the capital cities this weekend.

The Refugee Action Collective reported that over 3000 people marched from the Sydney Town Hall to Circular Quay, while 2000 people assembled at the State Library in Melbourne.

Marches were also held in Brisbane, Newcastle, Adelaide, Hobart, Perth and Ballina on Saturday, while protesters marched in Darwin on Sunday. Australian embassies in London and Tokyo were also picketed.

Protest organiser Chris Breen told The Guardian that the thousands of traumatic incidents from the Nauru camps recently leaked to the press showed that the camp residents were suffering from systematic abuse.

“The point was to keep the pressure up on the Turnbull government after the election. We think refugee policy is coming apart at the seams,” he said.

Further coverage from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/27/nauru-files-manus...

FULL STATEMENT from Refugee Action Collective, and endorsed by CICD:

During the election, Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton tried to use the refugee issue to win votes. But despite the scare campaign, the election was far from an endorsement of Turnbull. The Coalition only narrowly avoided election defeat, and holds the thinnest of majorities.

The end of August marks 15 years since the Tampa affair, when then Liberal Prime Minister John Howard sent the SAS onto the Tampa to stop a boatload of refugees reaching Australia.

Now the Coalition’s promises to “stop the boats” and keep out refugees are no longer the winning electoral formula they seemed in the past.

The system of offshore detention is facing a major crisis over Manus Island. On 26 April the PNG Supreme Court held that detention on Manus Island was unlawful and the detention centre would have to close.

Further court action in PNG is under way, in an effort to force both PNG and Australia to act on the ruling.

But there is nowhere else for the Manus asylum seekers and refugees to come but Australia. The same is true on Nauru, where there are no arrangement for permanent resettlement of those found to be refugees. We need to keep up the pressure to demand the government “Bring them here”.

And we need to demand all refugees receive permanent visas, not Temporary Protection Visas where the threat of being sent back to danger hangs over them.

The tide of public opinion is shifting. A strong majority of people now want those found to be refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to come to Australia. And the overwhelming majority will be found to be refugees.

The 267 asylum seekers in Australia from Nauru and Manus Island have still not been returned to Manus or Nauru, thanks to the “Let them stay” movement earlier this year.

However, at least one of those 267 has been taken to Christmas Island. We need to step up the pressure to close the camps and bring them all here.