Manus Island Protests Shut Down A Major Melbourne Intersection For The Second Week In A Row


A major intersection in the Melbourne CBD was shut down on Friday evening, as hundreds of people gathered for the second week in a row to demand the government address the growing crisis on Manus Island.

Hundreds of people occupied the intersection of Swanston and Burke Streets, after marching from the nearby State Library. The protesters sat in a circle, surrounded by police, and waved signs and chanted “bring them here”.

The rally comes after thousands occupied the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets last Saturday. Activists also disrupted this year’s Melbourne Cup festivities, blocking trains to Flemington and abseiling from a crane above the racecourse.

Earlier on Friday, a number of protesters barricaded the entrance to the Melbourne Border Force office.

Some 600 asylum seekers on Manus Island have been without food, water, power or adequate medical care since the Australian-run detention centre at Lombrum Naval Base was officially shut down on October 31. The men have been told to relocate to alternative accommodation outside of the centre, but fear they may attacked by members of the local community who do not wish for them to settle there.

Workers have begun tearing down fences at the centre, while local authorities have warned that “force may be used to relocate those who refuse to move voluntarily”.

The UN has repeatedly condemned the Australian government’s handling of the situation, while refugee advocates and medical professionals say conditions in the camp are grim.

Also on Friday, protesters in Sydney rallied outside a Liberal Party fundraising dinner attended by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and ex-PM Tony Abbott.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Australian Technology Park in Eveleigh, brandishing signs and shouting “shame” at guests as they arrived.

Among those targeted by protesters was Abbott’s sister, Liberal councillor Christine Forster, who told the press her jacket was destroyed as she attempted to make her way through the crowd.

“It was a riot with people screaming in our faces, trying to spit at us, trying to punch us,” she said to Fairfax. “I had about about three or four people grabbing onto me to try and stop me from getting in and in the course of that my jacket got shredded.”

“That is not what political protest is about in Australia.”

Feature image via Tomtom/Twitter