Refugee Activists Disrupt Melbourne Cup By Blocking Trains And Scaling Cranes

Disrupting the race that stops a nation.

Activists calling for Manus Island to be evacuated have disrupted the Melbourne Cup Carnival by driving a car onto train tracks and scaling a crane at Flemington Racecourse to unfurl a banner reading “SOS: Evacuate Manus Now!”.

Protesters Hannah Patchett and Katherine Woskett abseiled off the crane at around 12.30pm to unfurl the banner, and plan to remain there indefinitely to call for Manus Island to be urgently evacuated.

A group known as Whistleblowers, Activists & Citizens Alliance (WACA) has claimed responsibility for the action involving the crane. “We are joining with others across Australia to demand that the government evacuate the men on Manus immediately and bring them to safety for processing,” WACA spokesperson Charlotte Lynch said.

“This is an emergency. This is an humanitarian crisis. We refuse to sit by whilst the Government, with the complicity of the Labor Party, puts over 600 men’s lives at risk”.

Meanwhile, the car driven on to train tracks at Flemington suspended trains and caused major delays on the way to the races. The car was spray-painted with pro-refugee and anti-animal cruelty messages in protest of the Melbourne Cup, and appears to be a protest by a different group. At least one person has been arrested in relation to the protest.

The two women who climbed the crane have pulled similar stunts in past, suspending themselves from a Melbourne overpass in 2016 to support the #LetThemStay movement. One is a rope access technician, and the other is an arborist, in case you’re worried about their safety.

There are currently more than 600 men stranded inside the Manus Island detention centre without food, water or power, following the centre’s official closure last week. The government has offered the men alternative accommodation, but the men are refusing to leave because they fear for their safety. The Australia government is being called upon by activists to urgently evacuate the centre’s remaining residents to safety, but has refused to act, despite New Zealand offering to assist by accepting 150 of the men.