Politics

Melbourne Has Been “Shut Down” As Thousands Rally In Support Of Refugees On Manus Island

Addressing the crowd in Melbourne, Greens MP Adam Bandt called Peter Dutton "a terrorist".

Thousands of people have rallied in Melbourne and Sydney today to demand the Australian government provide assistance to the refugees it has abandoned on Manus Island.

More than 600 asylum seekers have been left without food, water, electricity, or security, after the Australian offshore detention centre at the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea was officially shut down on Tuesday.

The men have been told to relocate to alternative accommodation outside of the centre, despite the fact that they have been threatened by members of the PNG community who do not want them to settle there.

The UN has described the situation as an “unfolding humanitarian emergency”. Despite this, the government has stood by its declaration that the men will not be brought to Australia.

In Melbourne, protesters gathered on Swanston Street outside the State Library on Saturday afternoon. Addressing the crowd there, Greens MP Adam Bandt labelled Immigration Minister Peter Dutton a “terrorist”.

“If the definition of terror is to use violence and threaten people’s lives for political purposes, then Peter Dutton is a terrorist,” he said.

“These people have committed no crime other than to do what every single one of us would do if we thought our lives, or our family’s lives, were at risk.”

Thousands of people are also occupying the intersection outside Flinders Street Station.

In Sydney, protesters marched in the rain through the CBD, disrupting traffic, brandishing placards and chanting slogans of support.

At Hyde Park, Ian Rintoul, a spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, accused the government of attempting to drive refugees “into even more unsafe conditions”.

The rallies in Sydney and Melbourne came after hundreds turned out to similar gatherings in Brisbane and Canberra last night.

For more information on what you can do to put pressure on the government to #bringthemhere, follow this link.

Feature image via Ben Courtice/Twitter