Zebedee Parkes

This election campaign has seen the Coalition blustering that its harsh policies are stopping the people smugglers and deaths at sea, Labor trying to ignore the issue, and the Daily Telegraph running front page headlines such as “The boats are back”.

But standing in defiance for more than 100 days is a group of refugees and asylum seekers protesting inside the Nauru detention centre.

Through low-resolution photos and shaky video footage, images of the protesters have reached the world, despite intimidation from guards and new fences built to keep cameras out.

Where were you in May when the New South Wales state government announced it will scrap the free rides the Opal card currently gives you after having paid for eight trips in one week?

I was not gazing out the window of a train daydreaming that I was on a catbus — the magical type of public transport in Hayao Miyazaki's 1988 anime classic, My Neighbour Totoro.

In May 1939 the St Louis, carried 935 Jews seeking asylum from Nazi Germany. Many countries refused to let them in, including the US, which used coast guard ships to stop the St Louis from docking. Eventually they were forced to return to Europe, and most of the passengers died in the Holocaust they were fleeing.

Chasing Asylum
Directed by Eva Orner
Selected cinemas

Chasing Asylum is a new documentary that shows the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres for the “Hell on Earth” and “human dumping grounds” they are.

Thousands of people took part in the Newcastle #BreakFree2016 protest that stopped coal exports in Newcastle for the day.

Photos:

Several hundred people rallied outside the department of immigration in Sydney on April 29.

They were part of nation-wide #BringThemHere actions, demanding the federal Coalition government bring the 850 asylum seekers and refugees currently in Manus Island Detention Centre to Australia.

Earlier in the week, the PNG Supreme Court had ruled that the detention centre was in breach of its constitution.

Aboriginal activist and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Ken Canning said: "The way this government is treating these people, a lot of them will die — and that is murder."

After three years of murders, hunger strikes, mass protests and forcing people to live in some of the worst conditions imaginable, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled on April 26 that detaining asylum seekers in the Manus Island Detention Centre is a breach of the country’s constitution.

In the same week, Omid, an Iranian refugee who had been forcibly resettled on Nauru, self-immolated in front of UNHCR inspectors because he could not “take it anymore”.

Sun filters through as a golden blur in low-resolution photos and a few seconds of shaky video clips — evoking the difficulty of getting footage of a protest the Nauru government does not want you to see.

But even with three fences in the way, you can still see the 144 asylum seekers, including children, who are protesting against their detention in the Nauru Regional Processing Centre.

I moved to Sydney at the start of this year. For months I have spent every Sunday I'm not working rushing around the Inner West being interviewed as a flatmate, only to suffer rejection after silent rejection.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton announced on April 2 that for the first time in a decade there were no children in Australian detention centres. “When I got the call,” he said, “it was something I was proud of.”

With the announcement came news that 196 of the 267 asylum seekers who lost the High Court case challenging the government's legal right to deport them to Nauru would be moved to community detention in Australia.

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