Hundreds of people have staged a protest rally in the Australian city of Sydney, demanding that the refugees held at notorious Australian detention camps on remote Pacific islands be allowed into the country.
Protesters marched through the Australian city on Sunday, as a date set by Canberra approaches for the resettlement of the refugees and asylum seekers on two remote Pacific locations — Papua New Guinea (PNG)’s Manus Island and the Micronesian island of Nauru.
The federal government has said the refugees will never be settled in Australia and that the Manus Island center will be permanently closed as of October 31.
“We’re here because we’re angry, we’re angry with the treatment of refugees,” Ian Rintoul, the spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition, said to protesters. “Nobody is free on Manus.”
Australia refuses to accept any asylum seekers who try to reach its shores by boat. Instead, the country sends them to the detention camps on the PNG and Nauru.
The United Nations and human rights organizations and advocates have condemned the Australian government for its inhumane treatment of refugees.
Approximately 2,000 asylum-seekers are barred from Australia and sent to the offshore centers, where numerous criminal acts and human rights violations have been recorded and documented against the refugees over the years.
Refugee advocates and medical professionals have slammed the conditions at the refugee camps, with reports of widespread abuse, self-harm, and mental health problems.