SYDNEY, June 27 (Xinhua) — Australia’s immigration policies again are at the center of a national debate as protestors blockade car parks in Sydney and Melbourne on Monday to mark 100-day of protests by asylum seekers held at Australia’s immigration camp on Nauru.
While the number of asylum seekers trying to reach Australian shores pales in comparison to those seeking refuge in Europe, those attempting to reach Australian mainland by boat are instead turned back to their country of origin at sea — where possible — or transferred to one of two offshore processing centers in the Pacific island of Nauru, or on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
The activists targeted Wilson Security’s carpark at Sydney’s Circular Quay and Melbourne’s Central Terminal at 07:00 local time (AEST) on Monday in a bid to disrupt the morning commute for white-collar workers. Wilson Security is subcontracted by center operator Broadspectrum for security services.
“Since 2013, Wilson Security has received over 478 million Australian dollars (353.54 million U.S. dollars) in taxpayers’ money to run the security on both Manus Island and Nauru, whilst evading paying tax in Australia,” protest organisers Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance said in a social media post.
“Boycott them and send a strong message to Wilson Security that it is time to withdraw from the detention center industry.”
The issue is politically sensitive in Australia with both major parties supporting the harsh treatment of refugees in offshore detention, despite a vocal minority and left wing political parties continually voicing their dissent in the lead up to the July 2 election.
The United Nations and other NGOs consistently expressed concern over the policy.Asylum seekers at the Nauru camp have been protesting for 100 days over their continued detention and harsh treatment, including self-immolation in front of representatives from the UNHCR.
There are also concerns about Nauru’s failing rule of law after police investigations have found no evidence of rape committed by the local population on asylum seekers despite repeated allegations.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) plans to close the Manus Island camp after a Supreme Court ruling found its establishment violated the country’s constitution, however that has raised concerns about where the refugees would be resettled.
While the Australian government has pledged to take an additional 12,000 Syrian refugees on top of its annual intake, it maintains refugees who arrive in Australia by boat will never be resettled in Australia.