Protests Against Indefinite Mandatory Detention In Australia Go Global


A video featuring more than 50 people in 33 cities across 23 countries – including Iceland, Palestine, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Indonesia, the United States, Chile, Australia, and East Timor – has been released calling for a global protest against mandatory and indefinite detention in Australia.

The people behind the film – Julia Dehm (USA), Alex Kelly (USA), Carol Peterson (Germany), Kitty Thatcher (Chile) & Zac Rudge (USA) – are members of Australians and Allies Overseas Against Mandatory Detention. and they’re calling on people around the world to protest against Australia’s ‘Guantanamo of the Pacific’ – Manus Island.

The video calls for a day of protest on Palm Sunday (March 29) and beyond, and demands “an end to the cruel on-and-offshore detention policies that inflict deliberate cruelty on people fleeing war, genocide, and political or religious persecution.”

It was sparked by news of a mass hunger strike on Manus Island in January 2015.

In a written statement, a spokesperson for the group said: “This international movement started on a freezing New York City evening on January 21st, when a group of Australians and allies gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the Australian Consulate in solidarity with hundreds of asylum seekers who were then on hunger strike in an Australian-managed detention center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG).

“As Australian migrants overseas we have been welcomed in our current worldwide homes. We want to see the same welcome and freedom of movement afforded to us granted to those who arrive in Australia seeking asylum.

“Australia likes to enjoy a sunny and benign international reputation. By telling a different story about Australia’s mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees we are shifting this image of Australia and applying external pressure on the Australian Government to end indefinite mandatory detention.

“We will do what we can to amplify the voices of those unlawfully detained and express our solidarity through creative, dispersed actions.”

The group is promoting the hashtag #ShutDownManus and is hoping to motivate to action concerned Australians living overseas.

So far, vigils and rallies have taken place in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Houston (Texas), Austin, London, Cambridge (UK), Leeds (UK), Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sheffield, Dublin, Belfast, Berlin (DE), Brussels (Belgium), Geneva, Amsterdam and The Hague, Paris, Santiago (Chile), the West Bank, Hong Kong, Chang Mai (Thailand) and Japan.

You can find out more about the group here.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.