National Day of Protest: End Indefinite and Arbitrary Detention of Refugees

Images from the National Day of Protest in Melbourne, Australia on March 5, 2021. Use arrows above to navigate through the slideshow.

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Supporters rallied outside State Library Victoria to demand the government put an end to the indefinite and arbitrary detention of refugees. Known for its hard-line immigration policy and internationally criticised treatment of those seeking asylum, Australia has held refugees who arrived by boat in detention centres (on and off-shore) for nearly 8 years. The Time for a Home Campaign has stated:

“Countless Parliamentary and Departmental inquiries, UN investigations, reports by the Australian Human Rights Commission, and numerous whistleblowers, including the government’s own doctors have repeatedly told us the same story of systematic abuse, violence, and medical neglect of people held in detention facilities.”

While small numbers of detainees have been quietly released into the community, 1,513 people remained in facilities as of December 31, 2021. In addition to this, a bill was proposed last year that would have seen the prohibition of all electronic devices, particularly mobile phones, in centres across the country. This was ultimately thrown out, but once again evidences the Australian Government’s relentless commitment to ensuring the resettlement process is a painful one.

Though a recent study by Essential Poll found 54% of Australians agree that those found to be refugees should be immediately resettled, the message is overwhelmingly clear: go home.

This alienating stance is no longer the voice of the people, however, as these impassioned images bear witness to.