Today in Melbourne activists from the group Whistleblowers Activist Citizens Alliance (WACA) interrupted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a major economic address. The protest targeted the horrific conditions which refugees are facing in Australia’s offshore detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island. The group, who had infiltrated the audience, interrupted the speech by chanting: “Malcolm Turnbull, shame on you, shut down Manus and Nauru”. One protester managed to get up on stage within just a few metres of the PM holding a sign “FFS Close the Bloody Camps”.
— WACA (@akaWACA) August 17, 2016
The action has drawn national media coverage mostly from the point of view of a national “Security Breach at PM speech”. WACA organiser Samantha Castro was interviewed on the popular primetime TV show “The Project” where she was interrogated mostly about her group’s “antics” rather than the substance of their protest.
Refugees on Nauru have responded with messages of gratitude to WACA and their own message to Prime Minister Turnbull.
— Lanz Priestley (@LanzPriestley) August 17, 2016
— ELI SHAKIBA (@elahe_zivardar) August 17, 2016
The protest is in the wake of an important expose of documents (dubbed the #naurufiles) by The Guardian last week since which time there has been some modest protest action around Australia – such as the following outside Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s office in Perth by the #LoveMakesAWay movement.
— Jarrod McKenna ن (@jarrodmckenna) August 15, 2016
Psychologist Paul Stevenson has recently revealed himself as leaker of the Nauru files. He and other whistleblowers who have spoken truth to power risk two years in jail. Despite this threat, today an unprecedented 103 current and former workers in the offshore processing centres on Manus and Nauru have responded to the proposal for a Senate Inquiry into the “Nauru Files” stating;
the only way to secure the safety of refugees and asylum seekers in these locations is to bring them to Australia immediately.
These workers include doctors, teachers, case workers, managers and social workers from Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield), Save the Children, IHMS, Salvation Army and other contracted workers with first-hand experience across both Manus Island and Nauru Regional Processing Centres.
In a statement released today they state their belief that the establishment of another Senate Inquiry in response to the release of the Nauru files is quite simply not enough.
“This has reached crisis level and requires an immediate response.” said Toby O’Brien, former Child Protection Officer with Save the Children. “The evidence is already overwhelmingly clear.”
’’We’ve given evidence and it’s been ignored.’’ said Natasha Reid, Case Manager with Broadspectrum until
February 2015, ‘’No change has occurred for the men we worked with since the last Senate Inquiry. The camp is not safer, conditions have not improved, the physical and mental decline of those held continues.”
In further related news announced today the Manus Island centre is set to close following a meeting between officials from Papua New Guinea and Australia. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed the future closure, after meeting with PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill today.
Refugee Rights Action Network spokesperson Michelle Bui has said of the closure
Today’s confirmation that the Manus detention centre will close was an almost inevitable outcome of the PNG High Court challenge which ruled, in April, that Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island is illegal. Despite lengthy delays from the Australian and PNG governments to act on this ruling, the future of the Australia’s political prisoners incarcerated on Manus remains unclear. The men left languishing both in the camp and in the community remain Australia’s responsibility. RRAN calls for all those exiled to Manus Island to be brought back to Australia immediately.