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Protesters disrupt Australia's parliament over refugee policy

Protesters have glued their hands to handrails in parliament and chanted against offshore detention centers for asylum seekers. Australian politicians lashed out, saying the protest was undemocratic.

Around 30 protesters on Wednesday disrupted Australia's parliament, demonstrating against the country's treatment of asylum seekers.

Several protesters glued their hands to the handrails of the public gallery, while others shouted "close the camps," referring to offshore detention centers for migrants.

The protesters demanded that the government resettle refugees attempting to reach Australian shores.

"We are here today because you have become world leaders in cruelty," said one protester, according to local media.

The demonstration in the House of Representatives prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to leave the chamber and Speaker Tony Smith to adjourn the session.

'Cruel in the extreme'

Under Australia's hardline border security policy, asylum seekers caught before making landfall in the country are sent to detention centers at Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and Nauru in the South Pacific.

Earlier this year, the UN and human rights organizations criticized the harsh treatment asylum seekers experience when they arrive at these offshore processing centers.

"Australia's policy of exiling asylum seekers who arrive by boat is cruel in the extreme," said Amnesty's senior director for research Anna Neistat.

"Few other countries go to such lengths to deliberately inflict suffering on people seeking safety and freedom," she added.

The group Whistleblowers Activists and Citizens Alliance claimed responsibility for Wednesday's demonstration at parliament.

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ls/kl (Reuters, AP)

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