04/11/2017 3:32 PM AEDT | Updated 04/11/2017 4:35 PM AEDT

Hundreds Rally Against Government's Treatment Of Manus Asylum Seekers

And they didn't mince words with some of their chants and signs.


Hundreds have turned out in Sydney' despite the rain to protest the government''s forced shut-down of the Manus Island offshore detention centre which has left roughly 600 without water, power and food.

NSW Greens member of parliament David Shoebridge was a keynote speaker at the rally.

"If we were reading about what is happening on Manus Island as if it was occurring in Iraq, or in the darkest parts of Sudan, then probably we could understand it, and look at it and say 'Well, that is the way brutal authoritarian regimes respond to refugees'".

"I condemn our government and I condemn the Labor opposition for accepting this as policy", Shoebridge continued.

"And I send this clear message: Mr Shorten, Mr Dutton, and Mr Turnbull, you will be condemned by history".


At times during the protest crowds broke into chants such as "Peter Dutton hear us say, bring them here, let them stay" and "Peter Dutton stop the violence, Labor Party end the silence. Bring them here!".

A statement from Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian journalist and refugee who has been held on Manus Island since August 2014, was also read out at the rally:

"This place is like a war zone... Abandoned and left to fend for ourselves as best we can, we are asking people around the world to hear our words. We are forgotten people... we have committed no crimes. The Australian government is forcing us into even more danger".

Boochani was honoured through the Amnesty International Australia media awards for his writing in The Guardian and The Saturday Paper this past Wednesday.

Former community worker John Gilbert was one of those who turned out in the wet to protest.

Speaking to HuffPost Australia, the 67-year-old was appalled at "the horrific, horrible, inhumane situation that our government has let happen".

"From what I've seen with this present government, between this, and the Adani mine, and same-sex marriage and everything else, I despair".

Two other protesters, Helen Esmond and Dorothy MacIntyre, said that they were at the rally as part of the Sydney chapter of the 'Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children' group.

The event was a way for the them to "bring the whole situation to the awareness of the community," according to MacIntyre.


A rally was also held in Melbourne, where federal Greens member of parliament Adam Bandt said that the government needed a "wake-up call".

"We are being shamed in the eyes of the world because we are taking people who need our help and instead of holding an open hand we are hitting them with a closed fist and we are killing them. Enough is enough. We will stand up to you and say you are not doing this in our name, and you are not doing this for us".

The protests come as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the situation on Manus Island on Saturday morning:

"We have serious concerns about the welfare, safety and wellbeing of the roughly 600 men who remain in the accommodation compound, who are too frightened to leave," spokesman Rupert Colville said.

"We call on the Australian Government, as the party who interned the men in the first place, to immediately provide protection, food, water and other basic services".

Here are some of the best signs from the rally: