Nationwide refugee rallies mark 10 year anniversary of offshore detention and resettlement cruelty

Wednesday 19th July 2023 marks 10 years since PM Kevin Rudd announced: “As of today, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia”.

Thousands of people are set to rally in more than 20 events across Australia to call for fair processing of refugee claims, permanent visas, safe resettlement for refugees, and an end to offshore detention.

A solidarity protest will also take place in Greece, organised by Greek refugee advocacy group KEERFA, who say:

“Australia’s draconian and inhumane policies have been a terrible example across the world, not least here in Greece. Boat pushbacks are now part of the Mitsotakis government’s practice, and closed detention centres are being built on the Aegean Islands.”

International events are also being planned in London, Italy, Portugal and Los Angeles by the International Alliance Against Mandatory Detention.

Behrouz Boochani, Iranian journalist, author and former Manus Island detainee says:

“It is unbelievable that this tragedy is still going on after ten years with people stuck in Port Moresby. Many lives have been damaged, many families separated, and now Australia has abandoned them. Nothing has been achieved. Nothing but the creation of a tragedy and the mental and physical damage to hundreds of people.”

“Humanitarian and democratic values have been undermined.”

Zaki Haidari, campaigner for Amnesty International says:

“Anthony Albanese and the Labor party won government promising a new era of fairness and basic dignity for refugees and asylum seekers, but on the 10 year anniversary of Labor’s cruel offshore detention and resettlement regime, too little has changed.”

“Despite its commitments to the public, the Labor government have still failed to abolish the senselessly cruel Temporary Protection Visa class, replace the disastrously flawed Fast Track system for assessments and evacuate all refugees from Manus Island.”

Josephine Langbien, Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre says:

“The Australian Government’s detention system in Nauru and Papua New Guinea has inflicted immeasurable suffering upon people who came to Australia asking for safety.”

“Thousands of people’s lives have been irreversibly impacted and at least 14 people have died under this brutal policy. And for many, this ordeal is not yet over.”

“The Albanese Government must urgently evacuate the 80 people still stranded in PNG and end the harmful policy of offshore detention once and for all.”


Around 1200 people previously held offshore in PNG or Nauru are now here in the Australian community, but they are in limbo because the Labor Government is denying them the right to safe resettlement as refugees in Australia. Most of these people are recognised by UNHCR to be refugees and are owed protection.

Nearly 10,000 people who arrived before 2013 are still waiting for a decision about their refugee status – their claims being processed under the ‘so-called’ Fast Track system. Many are in costly and protracted appeal processes in the courts. Labor acknowledges the Fast Track system is flawed but has not provided an alternative system for timely assessment and review.

All of these people are still in limbo. They have lost a decade of their lives; they are unable to reunite with their loved ones. Whether here in Australia or in PNG, these refugees are refused resettlement in Australia. Those in Australia and are denied access to education and safety net supports if they cannot work to support themselves.

80 people are still held in PNG – Australia should bring them here. These people seeking asylum came by boat because there were no alternative safe pathways. They are still trapped in PNG after 10 years of trauma. Australian Government has abandoned these people.

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