Letter: Vigil to draw attention to plight of refugees at Nauru and Manus Island

It was heartwarming to see the show of emotion and support for the young Thai boys who were trapped in the cave and waited 12 days to be freed.

It’s just a pity that our community cannot show the same level of concern for the young and not so young people trapped in the detention centres of Nauru and Manus Island.

It is interesting to note that some of the Thai soccer boys and their coach are actually stateless refugees, the same as most of those seeking asylum whom Australia has sent to offshore detention. They are suffering the agony of not knowing if or when they will ever be freed. This has led many of them to suffer extreme physical and mental anguish, causing some, even children, to self-harm and to suicide.

In the past five years since the remote island centres where re-opened 12 men have died there. This is five years too long, 12 deaths too many.

This week there will be nationwide vigils and rallies to acknowledge this and call for an end to the cruel practice of offshore detention.

Manning and Great Lakes Rural Australians for Refugees will be holding a vigil on Thursday, July 19 from noon to 2pm outside the office of the federal member for Lyne, Dr David Gillespie, who is the assistant minister for children and families. Yet, under his watch, children continue to suffer and families continue to be separated in offshore and onshore detention centres.

Perhaps if we could see their faces, like we did the Thai boys, we would all be rallying to close the camps and bring them here.

All members of the public who share these concerns, and want Australia to be better than this, are invited to join us.

Lesley Bond,

Convenor

Manning Rural Australians for Refugees