New Zealanders protest for Christmas Island detainees, storm Aus. consulate in Auckland


Protesters outside the Australian consulate in Auckland.

Protesters in Auckland have stormed the Australian consulate on November 11 in protest at Australia's treatment of asylum seekers in prison camps, as well as the detention at Christmas Island of New Zealand citizens.

The protest, backed by trade union Unite and Global Peace and Justice Auckland, comes amid an uprising by Christmas Island detainees in the aftermath of the death of Iranian Kurdish refugee Fazel Chegeni.

Unite organiser Joe Carolan said they were supporting all people in the Christmas Island detention camps -- asylum seekers and New Zealanders convicted of crimes in Australia who are under threat of deportation back to New Zealand, Stuff.co.nz said.

"John Key pointed a finger over the opposition and went 'you guys are gutless'. Here is the situation where he should act as the prime minister and defend people's rights and he is absent from the battlefields."

Ahead of the protest, Unite -- which organises low-paid and often casual workers -- posted a statement on its website that said: "A prisoner uprising is currently underway in one of the Australian detention camps located on Christmas Island.

"The camp population is a mix of asylum seekers and New Zealanders being forcibly removed from Australia following a term in prison there.

"One of the prisoners told Radio New Zealand that they faced being beaten and killed by the guards. 'They don't hold back, if they come in here they're gonna hurt us without a doubt. We're not thinking that they won't, we know 100% that they're gonna come in and try to hurt us, so we're just sick of it. It's abuse, it's torture, it's time that we took a stand.'

"Hundreds of thousands of New Zealand workers have been put into a second class status by Australian rules since 2001 denying long-term residents from New Zealand the same rights as Australian citizens to health, education and welfare services. New Zealanders have the right to work in Australia but the government ensures they stay in this second class status by denying most New Zealanders the right to apply for citizenship.

"Thousands of refugees who have tried to reach Australia are also being held in camps in Australia, and overseas in Nauru, Manus Island, and Papua New Guinea.

"Violence, rape, torture and murder have become common place activities. The guards feel able to operate with immunity.

"The prisoner revolt should be supported. They are trying to assert their basic humanity against overwhelming odds.

"The camps must be closed."

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