Protesters board boat to highlight plight of refugees

March 27, 2015

Rallies calling for the closure of refugee detention centres were held across the country on March 29. The Refugee Action Committee Canberra released this statement on March 25 in the lead-up to the rally.


Activists from Canberra’s Refugee Action Committee (RAC) took to a boat on March 25 to highlight the plight of asylum seekers and refugees.

The RAC activists held up banners advertising the upcoming Palm Sunday Rally for Refugees.

Church groups, unions, university and school students, political groups and the general public are rallying to call for justice for refugees who are being held indefinitely in horrendous conditions in detention centres on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island and Nauru.

RAC coordinator and organiser of today’s boat protest, Dr John Minns said: “We are urging Canberra residents to stand up and demand a humane approach to asylum seekers and refugees, rather than our government’s cruel and repressive treatment of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. We need to show the government and the opposition that current policies do not reflect our views.

“Seeking asylum is not illegal. However they seek to get here – by boat or plane – asylum seekers need to be treated in accord with international law, assessed quickly and settled in Australia if granted refugee status.

“Australia is the only country in the world that locks up asylum seekers offshore in Third World countries like Papua New Guinea and Nauru. This is a worldwide issue and as a prosperous, developed nation we should be pulling our weight rather than shamefully avoiding our international obligations.

“The numbers we accept at present are only one refugee for every 1724 people in Australia or 0.058%. And we are way down the list internationally. In 2014 we were 74th on a GDP basis for hosting refugees. There are proven alternatives that are more humane, more effective, less costly and limit the risk of deaths at sea.”

RAC has recently developed a policy statement putting forward alternative policies, many of which are based on the proven refugee policies of the 1970s and 1980s.

[A rally will be held in Sydney on April 19 at 1pm in Belmore Park.]

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