SHUT DOWN MANUS: IN THE SKY
On February 17 at 1pm "SHUT DOWN MANUS" was written across the sky
above the Sydney Opera House.
To mark the anniversary of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati's death in
Australia's Manus Island offshore detention centre, three individuals
launched a crowdfunding campaign to skywrite the 500m-large letters. The
Pozible campaign received an overwhelming response, with the funding goal
reached in less than 48 hours. By the end of the 6-day campaign, 348 people
from Australia and beyond donated a total of $9,700, nearly doubling the
original target. Donations ranged from $3 to $200.
The campaign received so much support that the organisers were able to fund
a second message on the same day. "CLOSE NAURU" appeared above
Parliament House in Canberra at 3pm.
"The response shows that there is widespread condemnation for Australia's
treatment of asylum seekers and refugees - and the very existence of our
asylum seeker detention centres." co-organiser Gabrielle de Vietri
explains. "It shows how determined Australians and global citizens are to
see an end to a policy that deliberately inflicts suffering upon people
fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in Australia."
The giant words over Australia's most loved and picturesque harbour, sent a
clear message to Tony Abbott that thousands of Australians do not
support the mandatory indefinite detention of asylum seekers.
On Tuesday 17 February, it is one year since 23-year old Iranian
asylum seeker Reza Barati was killed under Australia's care in the Manus
Island detention centre. Many others were injured. Since then, 700
prisoners have gone on hunger strike, and others have swallowed detergent
and razor blades in an effort to insist upon their rights as human beings,
and to plead for release from the oppressive and dangerous conditions
inside the camps.
"We thought it couldn't get much worse than it was one year ago, but since
Barati's brutal death, Australia's treatment of asylum seekers has only
become more inhumane", de Vietri said. De Vietri was one of the artists who
successfully spearheaded the international campaign against Transfields'
involvement in mandatory indefinite detention and the profits from this
being used to fund the Sydney Biennale in 2014.
“No matter how concerned we may be about border security or drownings at
sea there can be no excuse for what happened to Reza Barati, nor for the
suffering of all the other men, women and children in Australia’s detention
camps. As the recent Human Rights Commission Report shows, keeping children
in detention is extremely damaging for them. Australians would not tolerate
any other group of children being treated in this way.”
Government secrecy surrounding the policy’s execution, means the Australian
public is not kept fully informed of the situation asylum seekers face
while in Australia’s care.
This action was coordinated by three individuals, unaligned with any
groups or political parties. The action was not only a demand for the
humane and rapid processing of asylum seeker claims, but also a message of
hope and solidarity for those inside the detention centres.
"We know sky-writing won't solve the problem, but it contributes to the
mounting public pressure against Australia's unforgivable treatment of
those seeking our help," they stated. “And it’s one of the few things we can
do to raise our voices against a bipartisan policy of deliberate cruelty.”
The organisers wish to add their own protest to those of other concerned
Australians standing up for asylum seekers – from the passengers on a
recent flight who stood up for the forcefully deported Tamil man on board,
to religious leaders holding prayer vigils in politicians’ offices, and
the live-TV protest that took place at the Australian Open. They encourage
other concerned Australians to come up with new ways to show their profound
objection to a policy that is in breach of Australia’s human rights
obligations, as well as basic standards of decency.
"These vulnerable people in Australia's care have been placed out of sight,but
they are certainly not out of mind."
Onlookers and campaign supporters shared their photos of the event
using the hashtags #ShutDownManus and #CloseNauru.
When & where:
1pm February 17 2015 above Sydney Opera House
3pm February 17 2015 above Parliament House, Canberra
The messages took approximately 12 minutes to be sky-written
More info: pozible.com/project/190844#description
Contact:Asha Bee Abraham on behalf of organisers 0468794235 email@example.com
More from RAC-QLD
Make a donation here
Want to get involved in planning this type of action?
Come along to rac meetings. New members welcome. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org