Candlelit vigil to mark four years of offshore detention

Wednesday marks four years since Australia declared no asylum seekers arriving by boat would be permitted to settle in the country. 

On July 19 2013, then prime minister Kevin Rudd struck a deal with his Papua New Guinea counterpart to resettle Australian boat arrivals offshore.

To mark the event,  Danya Thompson will host a  one-hour candlelight vigil in Bega's Littleton Gardens at 5pm. 

She chose to do so because she believes Australia is abusing the human rights of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island. 

"Our government has an obligation to allow these people refuge and they need to treat this situation as the humanitarian issue it is," she said. 

"We are letting our government know that we will continue to stand up and call for change to the policies that allow these human rights abuses to continue."

Her event is one of 54 marking the occasion, with  "Evacuate Now" events taking place all across the country.

Events include vigils,  protests, public meetings, prayers and other public displays.

Three events are taking place overseas, in London, Berlin and the Australian Embassy in the Philippines. 

The theme for this year's Evacuate Now events is "Four years too long: Close the camps, Bring them here”. 

So far over 3100 individuals have registered to attend an event.

Ms Thompson said she is organising the vigil as an individual not affiliated with any particular group, and invited all people and groups to join the event.

Bega Valley Rural Australians for Refugees will attend the event, and described July 19 as a "shameful anniversary".

BVRAR said Wednesday’s vigil was an occasion to "stand with those who have suffered, mourn those who have lost their lives and demand everyone on Manus and Nauru be brought to safety."

According to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, there are currently 816 people held at the Manus Island Detention Centre and 370 people at the Nauru Offshore Detention Centre. Forty-three of the detainees at Nauru are children. 

Fairfax file image

Fairfax file image


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