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Lifeboat for Manus

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Peace Action Wellington are driving a ‘Lifeboat for Manus" around Wellington Central today in solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers in detention on Manus Island. The lifeboat will stop at the bottom of Cuba Street for lunch, 12pm - 2pm.

A life-sized model sits in the lifeboat, its arms held up to mirror the gesture made by the men on the Manus Island in their daily protest for freedom.

PAW spokesperson Alex Davis said, "These men on Manus Island are just ordinary people who, needing to flee war and persecution, have attempted to legally seek asylum in Australia. The Australian government tries to justify locking them up with racist rhetoric like ‘illegal maritime arrivals’, ‘boat people’ or ‘queue jumpers.’"

"We want to show that people in New Zealand see through this racism and stand in solidarity with the refugees who have since been illegally detained by Australia on Manus Island. They have spent the past three weeks without food, clean water, power and medication in a gross abuse of their human rights.", said Davis.

"Throughout the day, we will be driving around and talking to people about how we can support the people in detention on Manus and Nauru."

Although the camp on Manus Island has been declared unlawful and closed, the men are still are not free. On Friday, they were forcibly moved to the incomplete ‘transit centre’, where 60 of them slept on the floor of a classroom due to lack of space.

Alex Davis said, "A ‘transit centre’ is just another place for these men to be detained. The refugees do not want to go to another camp. They want to be given the right of asylum and be allowed to find safety in a country that welcomes refugees."

The Australian government has refused all offers to bring them here to safety in New Zealand. "We want to keep the pressure on the governments of both Australia and New Zealand to allow these men to finally travel to safety here in Aotearoa.", said Davis.

"Since the official closure of the camps, aside from throwing some money at the issue, Jacinda Ardern has done little more than repeated the offer John Key made to take 150 refugees as part of our annual intake.

Ardern has said that even if the Australian government accepts the offer, the process may take months. In spite of mounting international outrage, she has been unwilling to press the issue.

Alex Davis commented, "This will not help the men on Manus. They need to be allowed to go to safety. Many of them have called on the UN and NGOs to rescue them. We call on the New Zealand government to be brave enough to evacuate the men and bring them here."

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