Refugee Advocate Protests Take Over Melbourne Immigration Department Building

The group is calling for better treatment of refugees after two deaths on Nauru.

12/05/2016 6:10 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
Twitter: NoFibs
Protesters occupy an immigration building in Melbourne.

Hundreds of refugee activists have occupied an immigration building in Melbourne, calling for better treatment of asylum seekers.

In the hope of being heard more than previous protests around the country, the group have refused police instructions to leave the building on Lonsdale Street in Melbourne's city centre.

The protests -- which led on social media with the hashtags #BringThemHere and #CloseTheCamps -- come after a refugee died from heart failure on Wednesday.

A 23-year-old Iranian refugee, Omid Masoumali, died in April after setting himself on fire in Nauru while another woman was hospitalised days later after setting herself alight.

An organiser of the protests in Melbourne, Emma Kefford, told The Guardian the group was ignoring requests from authorities but "may be prepared to negotiate with police a little later on".

"The goal was to disrupt to some degree because we feel rallies haven't been getting the message across, and the degree of despair and misery occurring offshore requires a heightened response that intervenes a bit more," Kefford said.

In the last month Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court ruled Australia's detention scheme on Manus Island illegal. However, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has stood firm on the Federal Government's offshore processing policies, reiterating that the asylum seekers will not be coming to Australia.

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