Australian Refugee Action Network vigils call for closure of Manus Island and Nauru camps

Librarian Lucia Perez and Armidale Rural Australians for Refugees supporters Patsy Asch, Bar Finch and Elizabeth O'Hara in front of the display for Refugee Week, 2017.
Librarian Lucia Perez and Armidale Rural Australians for Refugees supporters Patsy Asch, Bar Finch and Elizabeth O'Hara in front of the display for Refugee Week, 2017.

The Australian Refugee Action Network (ARAN) – a newly-formed national network of scores of refugee activist groups – has announced July 19 as a national day of action to call for the immediate closure of detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru.

Two vigils in Armidale are part of the nationwide protest with the theme of ‘Four years too long: Close the camps, Bring them here’.

The vigils will be held from 12.30pm to 1.30pm at UNE in the courtyard between Dixson Library and Lazenby Hall and in Central Park from 5.15pm to 5.45pm.

“Australians are mortified at our horrific, bipartisan policy which has been going on for four years too long,” Armidale Rural Australians for Refugees supporter Elizabeth O’Hara said. “We want all politicians to know that we won’t back down from public protest until the camps are closed and the people are brought here to safety.”

Australians are mortified at our horrific, bipartisan policy which has been going on for four years too long.

Elizabeth O'Hara

On 19 July, it will be four years since the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that people arriving by boat to seek asylum in Australia would be detained in the Manus Island and Nauru centres and never allowed to settle here.

“It has been four years in which people seeking asylum have been held against their will, been subjected to terrible mental and physical stress and, in some cases, lost their lives – either murdered by guards or through medical neglect.

“The Manus Island and Nauru centres have been condemned by the UNHCR, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Australian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and many other humanitarian and human rights organisations.

“July 19 is a shameful anniversary,” she said.