Two women unfurled a “Let Them Stay” banner and suspended it off Yarra Bend Bridge for three hours to protest the government’s plan to relocate 267 asylum seekers from Australia to Nauru.
Victorian police asked them to leave, but they refused. The protesters rappelled to the ground just before 11 a.m., The Guardian reported. One of the protesters address the public in a video message, “We encourage other Australians to take direct action, to stand up for those who can’t. The government needs to let them stay.”
#LetThemStay is a protest campaign across Australia in support of the asylum seekers. Several protests were already held in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, Hobart, Canberra and regional centres across the country. The protest came after the High Court’s decision last week validating Australia’s offshore processing scheme, which means 267 asylum seekers – including 91 children – who are in the country for medical treatment could be sent to Nauru.
The Turnbull government has not yet finalized its decision to deport the refugees, but sympathisers are already exerting effort to let the asylum seekers stay in the country, News.com reported. “We can show mercy to these people, we can show compassion to them, we can do something vastly different from the terrible treatment they have experienced,” paediatrician Dr. Josh Francis addressed the crowd in a Brisbane protest this week.
Almost 100 of Australia’s prominent comedians also support the protest. Published by Buzzfeed, they wrote a letter to the prime minister and immigration minister. The letter addressed to “Rich White Men Who are in Charge of Things” reads: “To us, the idea of deporting vulnerable people seeking asylum to Nauru to face the very things they sought protection from is a really, really bad joke. Like, no good. At all. We understand that the recent decision by the high court technically makes this sort of thing legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s worth pursuing. Other things that are legal include smoking and wearing Crocs.”