Amnesty Candle Day in Melbourne – 27 May 2011

Member of RMIT group addressing gathering

Not a protest in the usual sense, but the RMIT branch of Amnesty International Australia marked the annual candle day and the 50th anniversary of the movement with an information day outside the State Library (see below) ending in the evening with speakers and the formation of a human candle on the lawns. This latter was rain affected to say the least, but upwards of thirty people heard a member of the local group relate the history of Amnesty from its foundation in 1960 by British lawyer Peter Benenson, a statement of Amnesty’s position on Australia’s current and proposed treatment of refugees, and finally Sister Brigid Arthur of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project shared some of her personal knowledge drawn from years of direct contact with asylum seekers, to counter the misinformation put about by government and especially the tabloid press.

Closeup of previous speaker

Victorian candle day co-ordinator Hanna Lewis addressing the gathering:

Representative of Amnesty International Australia, Victorian branch speaking

Closesup of previous speaker

Sister Brigid:
Sister Brigid addressing the gathering

Closeup of previous speaker

The ‘human candle’ was probably only properly effective viewed from above, but this may give an idea:

People holding glowsticks form outline of a human candle

The stall operated throughout the day:

The Amnesty 'tent' stall

A walking ‘Amnesty candle’ canvassed passers-by:

Campaigner in candle costume invites support

A series of posters laid out on the ground in front of the Library entrance described a refugee’s journey beginning with his escape from the Taliban in Afghanistan as a 14-year-old in 2006 and ending in jail (aka ‘administrative detention’) in Australia 6 years later via Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia:
Journey begins in Afghanistan

Stage 2 - Pakistan

Stage 3 - Malaysia

Stage 4 - Indonesia

Stage 5 - detention in Australia

Amnesty International Australia website.