12 Feb – Early Friday morning in Brisbane, university and TAFE students occupied federal immigration minister Peter Dutton’s office.
Sitting in the cramped public space, we chanted: “Say it loud, say it clear! Refugees are welcome here!”.
Behind the locked doors, Dutton was nowhere to be seen.
Framed in the foyer are numerous awards and messages, including a mental health awareness poster. Lauren Saunders, NUS Women’s Officer for Queensland pointed out the irony:
“Many of the asylum seekers are here in Australia to be treated for the psychological trauma they have suffered on Nauru – and now they are being sent back to an island camp which is not fit for human beings.”
She indicated to a number of framed children’s drawings on the walls of Dutton’s office. “We can see a giraffe and bicycles here. Meanwhile children locked in detention are drawing pictures of themselves committing suicide.”
After two hours, media arrived. When one of our representatives stepped outside to speak with them, 14 police clamped down on the occupation.
A follow up action took place in King George Square at 5pm to demand the government #letthemstay.
The protest coincides with another action in Sydney this morning where activists have placed 37 cribs along Bondi Beach to symbolise the 37 babies facing removal.