Statement by WACA Members Standing Trial for Parliament Protest

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Today seven WACA members stood trial charged with "Destroy, Damage Commonwealth Property". We have entered a plea of not guilty, and have exercised our right to be heard by a jury. We maintain our innocence in this matter.

On the 30th of November last year, we travelled to Parliament to speak directly to our representatives. Refugees and asylum seekers have been detained in our name for too long and the Australian Government’s policies are killing innocent people.

We needed to tell our representatives directly that they are complicit in the rape, torture and child abuse of innocent people who have been imprisoned indefinitely for the simple act of asking for help. We did this because we have the privilege to speak when others cannot. Every day on Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island is another day in hell; every single person in offshore detention must be evacuated to safety immediately.

The Australian Government’s recent out-of-court settlement with the men of Manus Island highlights the Government’s stark understanding of their complicity in this abuse; abuse that they do not want on the public record. This Government must explain to the Australian people what their intention is for the men of Manus. These men came to us fleeing persecution and seeking our protection. The Australian government is obligated under International Law to provide asylum, however it denies the basic rights of these people and further traumatises them.

Every person has the right to seek asylum, and to live in freedom and safety; when will the Australian Government extend this right to every man, woman and child held in offshore detention?

Neither the Government nor the Opposition can be trusted whilst Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island Immigration prisons remain open. Both sides of politics continue to violate human rights, through indefinite detention, support of boat turn-backs, and by refusing to take responsibility for the resulting deaths at sea.

It is clear that the Government’s offshore detention policy has failed. Australia has become a world leader in cruelty. The policy is in direct violation of the UN Convention on Refugees. The Government’s “US Deal” is nothing but a desperate attempt to disguise the establishment of a permanent island prison on Nauru.

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For years we have attempted to make ourselves heard through more conventional means. We have written letters and signed petitions, we have attended rallies and speak outs, we have held sit-ins and we have blockaded in attempts to stop deportations to danger. We have reached a critical moment in Australia’s history, a moment when these methods are no longer enough. We have been unable to reach those in power, our so-called representatives. We are now in a state of emergency. We are in the midst of an humanitarian crisis. We took direct action inside our Parliament House in an attempt to be heard. We called out to our elected representatives to demand that they end their inhumane policies.

We cannot remain silent whilst innocent people are imprisoned and tortured in our name. We call on the Australian people to rise with us in solidarity with those who rise every day on Manus Island, Christmas Island and Nauru, and demand we take the higher road, a road to freedom, humanity and respect for all peoples on this earth.

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