Pressure increases over Manus Island evacuations

Photo: @Marcoorca/Twitter.

On Monday evening, refugee activists in Sydney took over the stage at a Wesley Mission human rights lecture - featuring guest speaker ex-Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock.

The protestors held up banners saying ‘Evacuate Manus Now’ and ‘#manus is a human rights crisis’  to call for the Australian government to act on the ongoing humanitarian crisis on Manus Island.

"Philip Ruddock was one of the architects of Australia’s brutal and inhuman offshore detention regime," said protestor Holly Brooke.

"For him to stand before us and speak about human rights is the height of hypocrisy. In his time as Immigration Minister Ruddock oversaw the opening of the Nauru detention centre, and spread vicious falsehoods about refugees throwing their children overboard so as to stoke racism in the electorate."

"Right now, more than 600 refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island have had all food, water, security and power removed from them. The Australian government is failing to uphold the most basic human rights. Six men have died on Manus Island under our watch. This is a continuation of the racist offshore detention regime set up 16 years ago by this man."

"If Philip Ruddock claims to care about human rights, he should join us in calling on both Liberal and Labor to end offshore detention and bring the refugees here," said protestor Anna Hush.

"The Australian Government must immediately evacuate Manus, and facilitate settlement in Australia or in a reasonable third-country option such as New Zealand. We will not stop protesting until this human rights crisis is addressed."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern on Sunday renewed calls for the Australian government to allow New Zealand to settle 150 of the refugees and asylum seekers from Australia’s offshore detention centres.

"We made the offer because we saw a great need. No matter what label you put on it there is absolute need and there is harm being done," Jacinda said on Sunday.

"I see the human face of this and I see the need and the role New Zealand needs to play. I think it’s clear that we don’t see what’s happening there as acceptable, that’s why the offer’s there."

Australian authorities are continuing to refuse refugees’ requests to be allowed to settle in New Zealand.

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