‘Refugees are human beings, too’: Wollongong rallies to demand justice

One word summed up the sentiment at a World Refugee Week rally in Wollongong at the weekend: “Enough.”

“Enough with the cruelty, enough with the failed policies, enough with the disgrace. Bring them here. Bring them here. Bring them here,” Afghan refugee Sayed Rahmatullah Hussainizada told the few hundred people who gathered in the Crown Street Mall on Saturday.

“It’s time we stop repeating history, it’s time we stop repeating history and it is time that we acknowledge refugees as human beings.”

The lawyer and refugee advocate was one of three speakers who shared their stories during the Refugee Action Collective Illawarra-led rally. He urged people to recognise refugees were “people who could contribute to this society”.

“Those two things don’t go together do they? The refugee advocate and the corporate litigation lawyer,” he said.

“But it has to, because for refugees to contribute positively to this society we need to be able to be given ... the opportunities to contribute to Australia’s corporate, because that is where the real change begins.”

The rally was held to pay tribute to refugees and demand justice for all asylum seekers.

The crowd then marched down the mall and towards the WIN Entertainment Centre, stopping outside federal Labor MP Sharon Bird’s office on the way.

Meanwhile, Shellharbour’s ‘Cultural Treasures’ Multicultural Festival saw hundreds of people flock to Reddall Reserve at Lake Illawarra on Saturday.

Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba said the city’s multiculturalism was “one of its most important features”.

“Our community comprises people from a huge array of different nationalities and backgrounds and each one of them adds to the fabric of what makes Shellharbour a fantastic place to live,” Cr Saliba said.