SATURDAY marked the seventh anniversary of the Rudd Government's announcement that people arriving in Australian waters seeking asylum would be detained in offshore detention and would never be allowed to settle in Australia.
As a result of that momentous decision, RAR (Rural Australians in Support of Refugees) claims 13 men have died in offshore detention, hundreds have suffered both physical and mental torment, families have been separated and lives have been ruined.
"Seven years later, some 400 men, women and children continue to be trapped by our Government in PNG and Nauru," RAR spokesman Mike Griffin said.
"Hundreds more are held in detention in Australia. Some 120 people are stuck in hotels in Brisbane and Melbourne, having been transferred to Australia for urgent medical treatment, which many of them have yet to receive.
"Our Government has completely abrogated its responsibilities to fulfill its obligations under the UN Refugee Convention.
"It is shameful that our Government continues to treat these innocent people with such cruel disdain. They have committed no crime, but, unlike convicted criminals, they have no release date from their pain and punishment."
Across Australia at the weekend, thousands of refugee supporters participated in peaceful demonstrations to protest the Government's actions.
"Our local demonstration in Bellingen on Saturday attracted more than 20 supporters, who lined Waterfall Way with their placards and banners," Mike said.
"The support from passing motorists was overwhelmingly supportive of the action.
"We believe that, in spite of all the other difficulties that we are all facing at the moment, it is still important to remind the public about what the Government is doing in our name. This is a cruel, inhumane and unlawful policy that the Government could bring to an end within weeks, if it had the political will to do so.
"It should accept the New Zealand Government's offer to accept 150 refugees immediately, and commit to resettling the remaining refugees and asylum seekers by the end of the year. They have suffered enough."
If you would like to join RAR and be part of the next demonstration or fundraising event you can email Mike on firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 6569-5419.