Fresh ral­lies in Aus­tralia against refugee de­ten­tion cen­tres

Fiji Sun - - World News - Jy­otip@fi­

Mel­bourne: Thou­sands of pro­test­ers across Aus­tralia have held ral­lies to de­mand the clo­sure of the coun­try’s over­seas refugee de­ten­tion cen­tres. Demon­stra­tors took to the streets of sev­eral Aus­tralian cities on Satur­day, car­ry­ing ban­ners with the words “Close the camps, Bring them here” to de­mand that asy­lum seek­ers and refugees from camps on Nauru and Pa­pua New Guinea (PNG) is­lands be re­set­tled on the main­land. Al Jazeera’s An­drew Thomas, re­port­ing from Syd­ney, said the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment had agreed to close the Aus­tralian-funded pri­son camp for asy­lum-seek­ers on Manus Is­land, though the fate of 800 refugees held in the camp re­mained un­clear. “Some have been there [in the camps] liv­ing in limbo for more than three years, the same goes for the fam­i­lies held on Nauru,” our cor­re­spon­dent said. “Find­ing out what goes on in those pris­ons is very dif­fi­cult, jour­nal­ists are banned and the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment has brought in a law that pre­vents those [who] worked in them talk­ing about what they have seen, the penalty is about two years in pri­son. “How­ever, de­spite that, some for­mer work­ers have sat down with me and told me about what they saw in­side and why they want those pris­ons closed,” Mr Thomas said. Ju­dith Reen, an ex-teacher on Manus Is­land and Nauru, said the con­di­tions at the camps were shock­ing.

“It’s just so point­less that the suf­fer­ing you see, it felt a lot worse than a pri­son, a lot worse. When it would rain the sew­er­age would just rise up and you could see raw sew­er­age run­ning through, it was really dis­gust­ing,” she told Al Jazeera. An­other for­mer teacher in Nauru, Evan Davis, said there was no pri­vacy and that the asy­lum seek­ers were con­stantly watched.

“This is not by ac­ci­dent, this is a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to break peo­ple’s spir­its and the de­pres­sion they are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, the loss of hope, the de­nial for their ed­u­ca­tion, the de­nial of their free­dom, and the fact that we are steal­ing their child­hood from them, it is tor­ture,” Mr Davis said. Al Jazeera

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