About 400 Blue Mountains residents gathered for three snap candlelight vigils on Sunday night to protest the treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island and to pay tribute to the young Iranian, Reza Barati, who was killed there last week.
The vigils were held at Carrington Place in Katoomba, Glenbrook Park and Gloria Park, Hazelbrook; joining thousands in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Australian embassies around the world.
Mayor Mark Greenhill and Graeme Swincer from the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group addressed the 200 strong crowd in Glenbrook. Clr Greenhill said the event marked a “period of sadness in our country”. “They [the federal government] call him a ‘casualty’, but he has a name,” he told the crowd.
“He has people who love him. He had hopes and dreams. He is in our hearts tonight. They all are. “Families with children, grandparents, teenagers, people from all different backgrounds joined together in Glenbrook Park to be the voices for those whose voices are being hidden,” organiser Rachel Hall said. “There’s a lot of people who don’t agree with what is happening to refugees, we want everyone to be treated in a humane way,” she said.
The event was co-ordinated via social media, through activist group GetUp. GetUp’s Sam Mclean said the “government’s effectively shut off the lights [ in detention centres], taking censorship to an unprecedented level.
“It’s past time to switch those lights back on - we need a truly independent inquiry into this tragedy and proper public scrutiny of these places.”
When contacted by the Gazette, MP for Macquarie Louise Markus, whose husband Jim is from Papua New Guinea, said she had “no personal reflections to make” regarding her association with PNG.
“Just that the loss of any young life is a tragedy and my deep sympathies go out to the family.”