Off­shore pro­cess­ing sparks protest

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Joel Kelly

A VIGIL and a protest in Perth’s south­ern sub­urbs have called for a re­think of the fed­eral govern­ment’s ap­proach to pro­cess­ing asy­lum seek­ers off­shore.

A vigil was held out­side Swan MP Steve Irons’ of­fice in Vic­to­ria Park last Mon­day and up to 300 peo­ple gath­ered in Red­cliffe re­cently to protest against off­shore pro­cess­ing for asy­lum seek­ers.

The Refugee Rights Ac­tion Net­work (RRAN) or­gan­ised the protest out­side the Perth Im­mi­gra­tion Res­i­den­tial Hous­ing fa­cil­ity on Kanowna Av­enue fol­low­ing a High Court de­ci­sion rul­ing off­shore de­ten­tion con­sti­tu­tional.

Ac­cord­ing to RRAN vol­un­teer Vic­to­ria Martin, there are about eight refugees in the Red­cliffe fa­cil­ity at risk of be­ing sent to Nauru.

“Th­ese in­clude a Syr­ian fam­ily with a young baby and sev­eral mar­ried cou­ples,” she said.

“All were brought to Aus­tralia from de­ten­tion on Nauru in or­der to re­ceive med­i­cal treat­ment and are cur­rently be­ing held in de­ten­tion cen­tres here in Perth.”

Ms Martin is in reg­u­lar con­tact with the refugees and said their men­tal health was se­ri­ously de­clin­ing.

“Th­ese are some of the most at-risk in­di­vid­u­als… send­ing them back to Nauru will only make them more vul­ner­a­ble,” she said.

The fed­eral govern­ment af­firmed its hard­line ap­proach to peo­ple smug­gling and re­sisted calls to spare the trans­fer of 267 asy­lum seek­ers from Aus­tralia to Nauru.

Paul Mon­tague was part of the vigil out­side Steve Irons’ of­fice last week. He is part of the Love Makes a Way Chris­tian protest group who were also ar­rested in 2014 for oc­cu­py­ing Curtin MHR Julie Bishop’s elec­torate of­fice with a prayer ses­sion for asy­lum seek­ers.

“Go­ing to Steve Irons’ of­fice was about the sim­ple strat­egy of hav­ing a mem­ber of the Mal­colm Turn­bull govern­ment get in the ear of the Prime Min­is­ter and say­ing ‘please let th­ese peo­ple stay’,” he said.

But the lo­cal fed­eral mem­ber re­mains res­o­lute in the govern­ment’s poli­cies.

“We are main­tain­ing poli­cies that work. Our po­lices have dis­man­tled the peo­ple smug­gling trade. The govern­ment is tak­ing a com­pas­sion­ate ap­proach on this mat­ter and de­ci­sions will be made on a case by case ba­sis,” Mr Irons said.

Pic­tures: Marziya Mo­hammedali

Pro­test­ers in Red­cliffe op­pose off­shore pro­cess­ing of asy­lum seek­ers.

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