Offshore processing sparks protest
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.