Thousands slam Australia refugee policy

A man shouts slogans against the Australian Labor Party (ALP) during a rally in support of asylum seekers outside an ALP meeting in Sydney, July 22, 2013.

Thousands of protesters have held a mass rally in Sydney to protest at the Australian government’s new harsh measures against refugees and asylum seekers.

More than 3,000 people gathered at Sydney Town Hall before marching along George Street on Sunday. The pro-asylum activists chanted slogans against the premier’s new plan and racism.

“The purpose of today … was to send a clear message that what they (the government) are doing is wrong,” media outlets quoted one of the organizers as saying.

“It’s also to enable people to come together. There is a lot of stress in the community about how our country is treating people.”

Also on July 22, protesters staged a rally in Sydney’s suburb to object to the Prime Minster Kevin Rudd’s tough policy against asylum seekers. The group of activists gathered outside the venue where Rudd was to brief his colleagues about the new policy.

The wave of protests come as Australia seems to be determined to press ahead with its new policy of cracking down on human smuggling into the country. Prime Minster says he will make no apology for his hard-line plan to banish asylum-seekers.

On July 19, Australiaâ„¢s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Peter Oâ„¢Neill, signed the Regional Settlement Arrangement in the Australian city of Brisbane in connection with the hardline policy.

Under the new policy, those who pay human smugglers to take them to Australia on illegal boats will be sent to Papua New Guinea.

The radical immigration policy, however, does not seem to be working. More than 1300 refugees have arrived since the directive was issued.

Australia has become a desired destination for Asian immigrants who are seeking a better life. But over the years, hundreds of them have lost their lives because their overcrowded boats were capsized in rough waters.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has also expressed concern about Australiaâ„¢s decision to send asylum-seekers arriving by boat to Papua New Guinea.

The UN refugee agency said in a Friday statement that it was Å“troubled by the current absence of adequate protection standards and safeguards for asylum-seekers and refugees in Papua New Guinea.”

JR/PR

Republished from: Press TV