IT is immoral, cruel and unsanitary to send refugees back to Nauru detention centre.
These are the words of Amnesty International Margaret River branch president Rod Whittle, following the High Court of Australia’s ruling that Australia’s offshore detention regime at Nauru and Manus Island is lawful.
The ruling demolished asylum seekers’ hopes that detention centres would be closed and they would be settled in Australia, with the majority decision by six of the seven High Court judges clearing the way for the government to return about 250 asylum seekers in Australia, including 37 babies, to Nauru.
The test case was run on behalf of a Bangladeshi woman who was brought to Australia from Nauru in August 2014 for medical treatment.
Supporters said the woman, who has a baby daughter, was terrified of returning to Nauru, where asylum seekers say they have suffered physical and sexual abuse.
Mr Whittle said the ruling crossed the line between legality and morality.
“These people have done nothing wrong; they’ve simply fled untenable situations,” he said.
“Government finds it fitting for them to be incarcerated in cruel and unsanitary offshore detention camps where the evidence is that basic obligations to care are not being met.”
Amnesty Margaret River reacted to the High Court’s ruling by erecting banners in the region reading #LetThemStay.
The hashtag is being used as a national form of protest as people have gathered around the country to voice their distaste for the High Court’s ruling.
Amnesty Margaret River held a protest at Riflebutts on Sunday, with around 100 residents turning out to support the cause.
Mr Whittle said it was simply un-Australian for any asylum seeker to be deployed back to Nauru.
“This is inhumane, children, particularly, are being traumatised, and a growing number of Australians are speaking out,” he said.
“The fact is those detained in disgraceful and hopeless conditions on Nauru and Manus are victims of years of political brawling in Australia that has completely skewed the issue.
Margaret River was officially labelled a “refugee welcome zone” in April last year, after a unanimous vote from Margaret River councillors.
Amnesty Margaret River instigated the motion in partnership with the Uniting Church and Tig Le House, making the town the 112th refugee welcome zone in Australia.
Margaret River Uniting Church registered as an official sanctuary for refugees after a worship service on Sunday.
A national petition against the High Court’s ruling has received more than 60,000 signatures.
View the petition here.