November 19, 2013
Some 200 people gathered on Monday at the lawn in front of the Australian Parliament House, calling for the government to change its policy on refugees and asylum seekers.
The Australian Greens spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said at the rally that while most of the asylum seekers arriving in Australian by boat have the genuine need to get away from their home country, the Australian government’s current policy of resettling them in Papua New Guinea and Nauru is “inhumane”.
“I know many of you, like me, have been extremely disappointed and heartbroken at just how vicious the political debate around refugees and asylum seekers has become,” she said.
“The majority of people who come here by boat are found to have a genuine need for why they run away from their country.”
She also called on people to act against the policy by letting their MPs know what the Australian people really want.
“Do what we should always be doing when it comes to managing the needs of a refugee. Don’t let them hanging in limbo with the threat of being sent back to danger. Let their children go to school, start rebuilding their lives. But you need to tell your MPs that.”
A young man by the name of Mohammed from Afghanistan told the story of himself being sent to Nauru for assessment and having to stay there for three years. He was lucky to be granted permanent residency. But many of his countrymen accepted the 2,000 AU dollars offered by the Australian government and went back home. Some of them got killed back to their home country.
He said the conditions in Nauru was “horrible”.
To curb the increasing number of asylums seekers risking their lives to take a boat to Australia, the Australian government under former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd introduced harsh policy in July.
Under the new policy, any asylum seeker arriving in Australia by boat will be transferred to Papua New Guinea for assessment. Even those who are genuine refugees will not be allowed to be resettled in Australia.