Church leaders hold peaceful sit in at Christian Porter’s office in support of Manus Island asylum seekers

Church leaders hold peaceful sit in at Christian Porter’s office in support of Manus Island asylum seekers

CHURCH leaders refused to leave the Ellenbrook office of Social Services Minister Christian Porter today, calling on the Member for Pearce and the Federal Government to bring people imprisoned in offshore processing centres to Australia.

Darlington-Bellevue Anglican priest Father Chris Bedding said the action was taken in solidarity with the 400-plus men on the island refusing to leave the ‘closed’ processing centre.

He said the ‘imprisoned’ men are engaging in nonviolent resistance, and demanding the rights and freedoms afforded to them by the Refugee Convention.

The church leaders are part of the movement Love Makes A Way, seeking justice and compassion.

Father Bedding said they did not interrupt work at the office, and brought flowers and muffins for staff.

He said people have been “illegally imprisoned and abused” on Manus and Nauru for four years, and Australia was obligated to provide them with safe resettlement.

The church leaders urged Mr Porter and the Government to accept a New Zealand offer to resettle 150 people and bring the remaining group to Australia.

Manus Island refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani said heat, humidity and hunger were taking their toll.

“This is not a hunger strike. It is a situation that the Australian government has created, forcing people into starvation and these harsh conditions by refusing to offer a safe place for resettlement,” he said.

“It is simply unacceptable to try to force 600 men to relocate into a small town where we are not safe and many refugees have been seriously attacked. This place is like a war zone.”

He said the men have become refugees for the second time inside a “hell hole”, abandoned and left to fend for themselves.

Fellow refugee Walid Zazai said the Australian government made a deal with the US and only 24 refugees from Manus have gone.

“We don’t know if the US will take more. We believe we have been given false hope and more of our life has been taken from us,” he said.

“We are political prisoners because we are used by racist politicians so they can stay in power.”

He claimed the Australian Government admitted to using the refugees to get a message out to anybody attempting to enter Australia by boat.

Carlisle Minister Elizabeth Raine, of Star Street Uniting Church, said she had written letters, signed petitions and marched in the streets in the hope of change.

“But our government continues in abuses, which have been well documented by the United Nations and Amnesty International,” she said.

Joondalup Senior Pastor Tara Conradt, of Cornerstone Church, said her primary concern was for the refugees.

“On Manus, I see brave men who are resisting cruelty and crying out for freedom. I add my voice and prayers to theirs,” she said.

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