refugee rights

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.

Five activists who scaled the Sydney Opera House roof to unfurl banners reading "Australia: World Leaders in Cruelty #BringThemHere" and "Evacuate Manus" on November 9 pleaded guilty to trespass in the Downing Centre Local Court on December 20.

They were fined a total of $20,000.

WACA spokesperson Lily Matchett said: “We face court in Sydney today for protesting the inhumane treatment of refugees while the injustice on Manus Island continues to unfold.

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”.

Victoria Police are being used by the state Labor government to threaten and harass protesters who have been organising in support of asylum seekers on Manus Island. Activists described the behaviour of the police at a recent rally as state sanctioned violence.

On November 24, a neo-Nazi grabbed the rally microphone and began screaming into it that refugees were rapists and that they should not be bought to Australia.

After an announcement from the Donald Trump administration that it is terminating temporary protections for about 59,000 Haitians who fled to the United States after a devastating 2010 earthquake, journalist Naomi Klein warns decisions by the United States and Canadian governments indicate how wealthy nations may handle climate refugees in the years to come.

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.”

#CantStandBy (CSB) is a decentralised online network similar to Anonymous or Occupy.

This network aims to make the Australian government’s regime of refugee detention so economically, politically and socially expensive that they have no choice but to abandon this policy.

People across the world are taking action to show solidarity with the men in Manus Island detention centre who now gone for more than three weeks without food, water and medical support since the Australian government closed the centre at the end of October.

Over the past few weeks there have being actions in New York, Britain and outside the Australian consulate in New Zealand.

On November 18 people held a vigil in Berlin, Germany. Here are some photos from the vigil.

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.

The emergency on Manus Island has sparked a renewal in the refugee rights movement, with large numbers of new activists coming to their first demonstrations. It has also inspired a range of creative direct actions, including acts of civil disobedience, which have complemented the large protests in the major cities and significant protest actions across regional towns and centres.

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