Australian activists superglue themselves to railings during protest in Parliament House
The protesters said offshore detention of asylum-seekers represented a “state of emergency”
Protesters demanding the closure of offshore detention camps for boatpeople disrupted Australia’s parliament on Wednesday with some supergluing their hands to railings in the public gallery.
Speaker Tony Smith suspended question time in what cabinet minister Christopher Pyne said was the most serious intrusion into parliament in 20 years.
The group of around 30 activists began chanting loudly soon after the session began, shouting “close the camps” and “where is your moral compass?”
Some superglued their hands to the public viewing gallery railings as security tried to remove them, with guards using hand sanitiser to help peel them free, television images showed. They were eventually pulled from the chamber, some forcibly.
The protesters, from the Whistle-blowers Activists and Citizens Alliance, said offshore detention represented a “state of emergency”.
“Parliament shutdown by @akaWACA #closethecamps #bringthemhere,” the grassroots alliance said on Twitter.
The same group stormed the stage and forced Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to stop speaking during a major economic address in Melbourne in August.
Canberra sends asylum-seekers trying to reach Australia by sea to isolated outposts on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, with the detention camps’ conditions widely criticised by refugee advocates and medical professionals.
UN special rapporteur Francois Crepeau this month said Australia’s “punitive approach” to boatpeople had tarnished its human rights record following an 18-day mission that took him across the country and to Nauru.
The government has defended its position as necessary to stem waves of migration by people from war-torn Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and the Middle East, with many dying at sea during the treacherous journey.
“I wondered whether we could press on ... we could not,” said Smith in explaining why he took the rare step of suspending parliament, which resumed some 40 minutes later when the protesters were taken away.