Thousands of Australians have taken to the streets across the island continent to voice their support for asylum seekers who are being held in Pacific island camps.
On Sunday, protesters in Sydney, Melbourne and other cities called on the government of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to shut down detention centers on the island countries of Nauru and Papua New Guinea, where asylum seekers are kept in inhumane conditions.
Australia has adopted a hard-line policy regarding emigration, according to which officials are allowed to prevent asylum seekers from arriving on the mainland.
The policy, which has come under fire both at home and abroad, allows officials to turn back the boats carrying refugees or send them to offshore detention centers.
A refugee identified as Adbi, who has reportedly been kept on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for over two years, demanded Turnbull to help the detained asylum seekers.
“They are traumatizing us,” Abdi said during a phone call broadcast at the Sydney rally, adding that living conditions at the Manus center were “indescribable.”
Last month, Francois Crepeau, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, put off his official visit to Australia over Canberra’s restrictive measures on his access to asylum seeker detention facilities as well as concerns about reprisals for those disclosing information.
Most of the refugees who risk their lives to reach Australia are reportedly fleeing conflict-hit zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.