“Let Them Stay,” was the battle cry of two female protesters who climbed the Melbourne Arts Centre spire at 3:30 A.M. today for Nauru refugees. After climbing the 162-metre high spire, the women then unfurled a banner saying, “#LETTHEMSTAY.”
The two women were identified as Katherine Woskett, 25, and Hannah Patchett, 22, according to The ABC. Both are members of the Whistleblowers Activist Citizens Alliance (WACA). The organisation openly admitted on Twitter that the two women were their members. They said they, as an organisation, were proud of the move.
By “them,” the women and the banner are referring to the 267 refugees from Nauru, 91 of which are children. Over 30 of the refugee population are babies. The refugees came to Australian shores to receive medical treatment.
The furore started when the Australian government threatened to deport the Nauru refugees back to their home country. One of the babies, who could have been affected was baby Asha, who came to Australia to be treated for burns.
Baby Asha, whose condition seemed to spark the acts of protest, was confined at the Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane. The doctors, who are attending to her case, refused to release her even though baby Asha was already in “stable conditions.”
Baby Asha’s healthcare team preferred to be assured that “a suitable home environment [would be] identified” before they release the baby with the possibility of being returned to Nauru. Baby Asha’s parents are currently staying in Brisbane and have been visiting their daughter daily in the hospital.
The Republic of Nauru has been experiencing a steady influx of refugees from countries as far as Iran. However, conditions on the phosphate island-nation are less than ideal. An Iranian refugee told the WHO weekly magazine, “Life on Nauru is very bad,” adding that sanitation and hygiene are dismal in the island country.
However, the Australian Government is attempting to maintain a hardliner stance on the issue, in spite of the widespread protests. The Australian Government would prefer deporting the Nauru refugees and ensuring border safety.
As for the two WACA women, the police are already working on defusing the situation, The Age reported. Drones have been seen circling the spire. The standoff is likely to end before the day ends. The protest has already resulted in a traffic jam in Melbourne’s central business district.