Zebedee Parkes

Four years ago thousands of people lit candles in more than 750 locations across Australia to remember slain 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati and demand an end to Australia’s detention system.

It was the largest post-Howard government mobilisation for refugee rights to date.

At rallies across the country activists who had been in contact with people in Manus Island detention centre exposed the horrors of that night.

On the first day of parliament in 2018 Stop Adani activists protested on the front lawns to send a clear message to Labor and Liberal - Stop Adani.

The Turkish government’s attacks on the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria’s (DFNS) Afrin Canton in northern Syria are an attack on refugees.

The approach of the Kurdish-led forces to the Syrian refugee crisis, in which millions of people have become displaced, should be an inspiration.

Western television cameras have captured footage of people taking the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea seeking safety in Europe. But thousands more are also fleeing to Rojava.

Footage from Sydney's massive invasion day march.

In 2011, in the days leading up to January 26, with Australian flags fluttering off cars and used as capes, accompanied by cartons of beer, sporting excellence as the pinnacle of Australian achievement and politicians lecturing the country on what it means to be a “proud Australian”, I left Perth.

The Manus Island tragedy is the latest in a series of systemic human rights abuses by successive Australian governments in recent decades.

But there is another story: one of courageous resistance in some of the most hostile situations imaginable — a resistance led by several hundred people on Manus Island who are still protesting, still demanding “freedom, nothing less than freedom”.

As the tropical sun set over Manus Island detention centre on November 23, Walid Zazai wrote on Twitter for the final time that night. He reflected on the day as:

“A day of horror. A day of fear. A day I will never forget.

“I thought I’m back in Afghanistan in a war zone. There was no way to hide, just the sky.

“Friends have been beaten, have been taken by force to town centres.

“Don't know what will happen tomorrow. Remember us in your prayers.”

After depriving hundreds of men of food, water and medical support for more than three weeks, Papua New Guinea police moved into Manus Island detention centre on November 23.

They are forcing the 400 men left in the centre to move to alternative accommodation on Manus Island which, according to Kurdish asylum seeker and journalist Behrouz Boochani, is like “moving to another prison”.

The statements, photos and videos that have emerged from the refugees inside paint a brutal and tragic picture.

Four hundred men are still protesting in the Manus Island detention centre. They are calling for nothing less than their freedom and will not move to another centre on the Island. They have held out since the Australian government shut down the centre and removed services on October 31.

November 15 was the 107th consecutive day of protest on Manus Island since the Australian government announced it would close the centre.

If there is one thing I have learnt from being involved in this campaign over the past decade, it is that seeing people protesting, known that someone cares about you and is watching, has always made a difference to people suffering in detention.

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