Australians protest against refugee centres
Oct.11, Sydney: Thousands of people in Australia have rallied on Sunday in support of asylum seekers who are being held in detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, just days after the government confirmed it was in talks with the Philippines to resettle detained refugees
The pr-refugee rally saw scores of religious groups, education institution, unions and community organizations. The rally was part of a national day of action to condemn the Federal Government’s policies and treatment of refugees.
Under Canberra's tough immigration policy, asylum-seekers attempting to reach the island continent by boat are turned back or sent to camps on Nauru or Papua New Guinea and barred from resettling in Australia even if found to be refugees.
Chanting "free, free the refugees", the protesters in Sydney, Melbourne and other cities said the government and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should close the Pacific detention centres, which have been harshly criticised by rights groups.
With Australia set to resettle 12,000 Syrian refugees amid the crisis in Europe, some demonstrators waved Syrian and Kurdish flags and said the government should move those held in the camps to the mainland.
The rallies came as doctors from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne told the Sunday Herald Sun newspaper that children should be removed from the camps, in a move supported by the lobby group, the Australian Medical Association (AMA).
Some 1,589 asylum-seekers - 1,382 men, 114 women and 93 children - are held on Manus Island and Nauru, according to immigration figures ending August 31.
Canberra has struck a deal with Cambodia to accept refugees in exchange for millions of dollars in aid over the next four years, although only four asylum-seekers have so far opted to take up the offer.
The Oslo Times