High stakes

A PASTOR and a mental health worker protesting in a makeshift tent suspended four storeys above Julie Bishop’s Subiaco office on Wednesday were arrested and have been charged with trespass.

Jarrod McKenna and Delroy Bergsma want the Australian foreign affairs minister to immediately evacuate about 600 men on Manus Island who have been without food, water, medical attention or electricity since the federal government withdrew support on October 31.

The men, who are part of the #LoveMakesAWay movement, displayed banners reading “SOS Manus” and “Love Makes A Way for asylum seekers.”

• Jarrod McKenna and Delroy Bergsma. Photos by Molly Schmidt

Mr McKenna said Manus Island is in a state of emergency.

“The lives of 600 people on Manus Island hang in the balance, their fate is in Julie Bishop’s hands,” the pastor said.

“I would like to say to the men on Manus that you are not invisible.

“We see you, we hear your cries and we are doing everything we can to make sure we can respond to you.”

Former Greens senator Scott Ludlam said he strongly supported the actions of the men.

“People don’t take measures like this unless the situation is really dire,” he said.

“Petitions haven’t succeeded, the phone calls haven’t succeeded, and now we blockade their offices until they get those men off the island.”

• Police abseil down the building to arrest the protestors.

Crowds gathered on the grass below the men, including Mr Bergsma’s wife and two daughters.

Mrs Bergsma said her family strongly supported the cause and her children had sent hand-coloured drawings to the men on Manus.

“We think it’s worth it,” she said.

“There are people on Manus who don’t have a voice, and I feel like they need to be represented.”

The men were removed from the building just before midday by police officers who abseiled from the rooftop.

The officer in charge said the men were arrested and will be charged with trespass.

Mr McKenna received a message of gratitude from the men on Manus and said this is just the beginning of #LoveMakesAWay’s support for the refugees.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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