Refugee supporters take to the streets around the country
PROTESTERS are calling for refugee camps to be closed at demonstrations in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne today.
Supporters want asylum seekers and refugees brought to Australia.
The Sydney protest will be addressed by a range of speakers including Nicole Judge, former Manus worker and whistleblower, Habiba Roshan, a Hazara refugee, Mark Morey, Secretary of Unions NSW, Ian Rintoul (Refugee Action Coalition) and Fr Rod Bower, the progressive Anglican priest whose church was recently the subject of an Islamophobic incursion by right-wing extremists.
Refugees on Nauru and Manus Island have also directly appealed to Australians to demonstrate for their freedom, in video messages circulated by the Refugee Action Coalition Sydney.
"It is a source of strength to us to know that there are people in Australia fighting for our freedom", one refugee on Nauru says in via video.
Behrouz Boochani, the Kurdish journalist and writer on Manus said "We in Manus prison… are asking from you the Australian people to put pressure on the government at this important moment."
Behrouz Boochani sent the following message from Manus prison:
I want to say thank you to everyone for coming out today. It's such an important moment for us to speak out and use our collective voice to demand change.
All of us have seen the files released from Nauru, 8000 pages of documents that show details of how people are being systematically abused there.
As a refugee inside Manus prison I can tell you I have witnessed the same system of abuse here. I have seen physical assaults, death, sexual abuse and torture. I have seen the deliberate denial of medical care, even for serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. If you saw what was happening here, you would have no doubt it is a system of punishment and deliberate cruelty.
The Australian government has kept us here in this remote island for more than three years and is controlling this system secretly, operating behind the cover of PNG and controlling all information with high security.
But I believe in the Australian people. I know this system is totally against your values. Once you understand what is happening here and in Nauru I know you cannot accept it. So I am asking you to do everything you can to help us, and end this cruelty.
After all I've seen these last three years I believe the only way we will get freedom is when enough Australian people support us.
That's why it's so important that you're here today.
But we cannot stop here.
I would like to ask you to investigate Manus prison and Nauru. Find out everything you can about what is happening here. Seek access to documents from all the companies involved in running this place who are making so much money from our suffering - Broadspectrum, Ferrovial, Wilson Security and IHMS to name a few. These documents should be published widely, and made available to the Australian people so they know exactly what is happening here, and what your government is doing in your name.
Australia is a democratic country. Please use it. Write letters to your politicians, call them and tell them this is important to you. Join one of the groups working to support us and ask how you can help.
Get as informed as you can, share that information with others, and encourage them to take action too.
Thank you again for coming here today, let's keep the momentum going. Together our voices are powerful.