This Thursday, July 19, marks the fifth anniversary of the Rudd government’s decision to reopen the offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, and to declare that from that date, no asylum seekers arriving by boat would ever be resettled in Australia.
Since then more than 2,000 asylum seekers who arrived by boat to seek our protection, as is their right under international law, have been abandoned on these offshore islands.
Conditions for detainees are terrible. Many have significant mental health problems. Twelve detainees have died in these facilities so far.
There are more than 140 children languishing on Nauru, including 42 inside the detention centre. These children are receiving little support, education or medical services and many have significant untreated mental health problems.
The system is devoid of compassion and is deliberately designed to break people’s spirit and to coerce them into returning to their home countries. It is surely time for the Australian people to tell our elected representatives that enough is enough, and that the offshore detention of refugees and asylum seekers must end.
We are entitled to ask: “Why is our government spending $2 billion a year on inflicting untold damage on this group of people who have broken no laws?”
We want our elected representatives to understand that we will not support the indefinite punishment of people seeking our protection from wars and persecution in their homelands.
We want people to understand that it is not necessary to detain people indefinitely on remote islands in order to keep our borders secure.
We want this cruel policy, which brings shame on us at home and abroad, to end NOW.
Our local Rural Australians for Refugees group will hold a protest on Harbour Drive in Coffs Harbour on Saturday from 10.30 am until 12.30 pm. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org.