Australians demand end to refugee centres

MELBOURNE – Thousands of Australians marched in major cities across the country to protest the government’s treatment of refugees while demanding an end to its controversial policy of processing asylum seekers overseas.

Thousands took part in rallies in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth among other cities to call on the Liberal Party-led government to allow refugees under its care on Manus Island and Nauru to come to Australia. Almost 10,000 people marched in Melbourne, according to the organisers, including religious leaders, community organisations and refugee advocates.

Protesters chanted “shame” and “free, free the refugees” while accusing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton of punishing people fleeing persecution and war.

Under strict border control policies, asylum seekers who arrive by boat are sent to processing centres the Australian government manages in the Pacific and permanently bans them from settling in Australia.

Many have been waiting for a country to resettle in for years. Although the US has agreed to take some of the 1700 asylum seekers currently on the islands, most still face an uncertain future.

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