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Vigil for asylum seeker murdered in Australian detention


New Zealand vigil for asylum seeker murdered in Australian detention

A vigil to mark two years since the murder of an asylum seeker while under Australian protection will be held this Thursday in Wellington.

On February 17, 2014 an Iranian asylum seeker, Reza Barati, was murdered while in an Australian detention centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

Wellington group Doing Our Bit is organising the vigil and are also calling on the Australians to end mandatory offshore detention. The group hosted a vigil on the same date in 2015 to offer solidarity to those in the prisons, as well as to Australian asylum seeker activists seeking to move the asylum seekers to the mainland.

“The Australian detention policy is cruel and unusual punishment and, as in Mr Barati’s case, continually fails to offer the most basic protections to human life,” said spokesperson Murdoch Stephens.

“New Zealand can do its part: we urge the government to publicly express their concerns about these offshore prisons. We also want them to guarantee they won’t send asylum seekers intending on coming to New Zealand to these atrocious centres.”

Costing over a billion dollars a year, the detention centres were heavily criticised in Geneva in November 2015 by a raft of nations. Prime Minister John Key defended New Zealand not offering criticism because, he said, we do it directly to Canberra.
“If we accept Australia’s disregard for international law on asylum seekers then we soon see our own rights eroded,” Stephens said. “It’s a short jump from the detention of asylum seekers to the offshore detention of New Zealanders that we’ve seen in the last few months. None of that should be acceptable to our public or to theirs.”
New Zealand was recently in the news because of its 2013 agreement to take 150 of the so-called transferees refugees from Nauru and Manus Island. Due to the change of government to the Liberal coalition, Australia has not taken up the offer. An open letter was published in January 2016 from an asylum seeker on Manus Island begging to be allowed to come to New Zealand as per the agreement.

The vigil will take place from 8.00am on Tuesday February 17th. A film screening at the 17 Tory St Open Source Community Gallery on 11 February from 7.30pm precedes the vigil. The first event will feature a short animated film ‘Nowhere Line: Vocie from Manus Island’ and ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ a feature documentary about the boat journey to Australia.

ENDS

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