THE High Court’s ruling that Australia’s offshore detention regime at Nauru and Manus Island is lawful has sparked outrage from a number of humanitarian groups across the country.
Among them is the Bunbury branch of Amnesty International, which held a flash mob protest against the ruling at the City of Bunbury Library.
The decision demolished asylum seekers’ hopes that detention centres would be closed and they would be settled in Australia, with the majority vote by six of the seven High Court judges clearing the way for the government to return about 250 asylum seekers in Australia, including 37 babies, to Nauru.
Convenor of Amnesty Bunbury Michael Wild said the High Court’s ruling was forcing innocent people into jail-like situations.
“Seeking asylum is a human right, and these people are being jailed like they are criminals,” he said.
“If the government thinks returning refugees, especially children, back to Nauru is the cure to this, then the cure is worse than the disease.”
The test case at the High Court was run on behalf of a Bangladeshi woman who was brought to Australia from Nauru in August 2014 for medical treatment.
Supporters said the woman, who has a baby daughter, was terrified of returning to Nauru, where asylum seekers say they have suffered physical and sexual abuse.
Mr Wild said it was immoral to place people in situations like that of Nauru or Manus Island.
“Over 85 per cent of the people in these detention centres are genuine refugees, and it’s cruel to place them in such poor conditions,” he said.
“We just don’t people having to live in places like that.”
Mr Wild urged government officials to think of the individuals being deported.
“We should not be punishing people for escaping a war-torn land,” he said.
“Efforts would be better spent on fixing the crisis at its source and helping to end the war.”
Margaret River’s Amnesty branch also held a protest against the ruling, with over 100 people turning out to support the cause.
Amnesty Margaret River president Rod Whittle said it was simply un-Australian for any asylum seeker to be deployed back to Nauru.
“This is inhumane,” he said.
“Children, particularly, are being traumatised, and a growing number of Australians are speaking out.”
“The fact is those detained in disgraceful and hopeless conditions on Nauru and Manus are victims of years of political brawling in Australia that has completely skewed the issue.”