More than 100 Mullumbimby locals came out for a snap candlelight vigil for refugees on Sunday night, joining thousands in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.
The candlelight vigil in Mullumbimby was organised by Nicolette Jackson and Rita Youssef-Price, who explained, ‘We organised it to remember Reza Berati, an Iranian asylum seeker who died after a horrifically violent attack this week on Manus Island, which also left 77 other asylum seekers injured.
‘We heard about this nationwide initiative and felt strongly compelled to organise something in our town. One hundred people attended the event, which was fantastic’, said Nicolette. ‘We lit candles and took a few moments to honour Reza and all the other asylum seekers who have suffered and died as a consequence (either directly or indirectly) of our government’s inhumane, immigration policies.
‘We are appalled by what is occurring, and we feel let down by political leaders on both sides, for turning this issue into a means to win votes by a race to the bottom. These cruel asylum policies don’t speak for Australia.’
GetUp coordinated the snap vigils with groups including Amnesty International, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, First Home Project, the Refugee Action Coalition and Welcome to Australia.
GetUp’s national director Sam Mclean said: ‘Across the country, people lit candles on Sunday night for those who’ve lost their lives and suffered in our care.
‘The truth is we just don’t know what’s happening in these detention centres, the government’s effectively shut off the lights, taking censorship to an unprecedented level,’ Mr Mclean said.
‘We need a truly independent inquiry into this tragedy and proper public scrutiny of these places.
An organiser of the Mullumbimby event ‘Light the Dark’ Rita, said the turnout showed people in the Mullumbimby community felt strongly about this issue.
‘We are determined to make a difference and will be looking at ways we can mobilise support for asylum seekers here in northern NSW.’