With one detention center set to close on October 31, human rights advocates want Australia to accept the asylum seekers. But Canberra remains determined to deny those imprisoned that opportunity.
Hundreds of human rights advocates in Sydney have protested the ongoing detention of asylums seekers on Pacific islands as a resettlement deadline approaches.
The government's draconian immigration policy refuses to consider asylum claims for those picked up at sea. Instead, these people are detained on remote Pacific islands - Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island and the Micronesian island of Nauru.
A court has ordered the Manus detention facility to close by October 31. Despite this order the government in Canberra still refuses to consider asylum requests and is instead planning to relocate the people to PNG's Manus Island.
Sunday's protesters are demanding that the asylum seekers be brought to Australia.
"Nobody is free on Manus," said Refugee Action Coalition Sydney spokesman Ian Rintoul on Sunday. "It will be like Nauru, a prison island."
Detainees oppose PNG
Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish journalist detained on Manus. He said in a Facebook post on Friday that the detainees do not want to be resettled in PNG as they will not be able to work or provide for their families there. Nor will they feel safe, he added.
The office of Australia's immigration minister, Peter Dutton, was not immediately available for comment.
Late last year, then-US President Barack Obama agreed to take in as many as 1,250 asylum seekers being detained in PNG and Nauru. In exchange, Canberra agreed to take in refugees from Central America.
Nearly two dozen men left to be resettled in the United States last month, the first part of the refugee swap between the US and Australia.
Australia has held 2,125 people in these offshore detention centers over the past four years, according to Australia's Department of Immigration. At the end of September there were still 1,111 people in the detention centers, with 742 on Manus and 369 on Nauru.
bik/jm (Reuters, dpa)