Activists try to unfurl 'Evacuate Manus' banner on Opera House

At 10:30 am activists tried to unfurl a protest banner over the west-facing sail of the Sydney Opera House with personal banners calling to #EvacuateManus. Pictured are the two protestors arrested. Thursday 9th November 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 171109
At 10:30 am activists tried to unfurl a protest banner over the west-facing sail of the Sydney Opera House with personal banners calling to #EvacuateManus. Pictured are the two protestors arrested. Thursday 9th November 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 171109
At 10:30 am activists tried to unfurl a protest banner over the west-facing sail of the Sydney Opera House with personal banners calling to #EvacuateManus. Pictured are the two protestors arrested. Thursday 9th November 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 171109

At 10:30 am activists tried to unfurl a protest banner over the west-facing sail of the Sydney Opera House with personal banners calling to #EvacuateManus. Pictured are the two protestors arrested. Thursday 9th November 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 171109

At 10:30 am activists tried to unfurl a protest banner over the west-facing sail of the Sydney Opera House with personal banners calling to #EvacuateManus. Pictured are the two protestors arrested. Thursday 9th November 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 171109

At 10:30 am activists tried to unfurl a protest banner over the west-facing sail of the Sydney Opera House with personal banners calling to #EvacuateManus. Pictured are the two protestors arrested. Thursday 9th November 2017. Photograph by James Brickwood. SMH NEWS 171109

A group of activists climbed the Sydney Opera House on Thursday morning and tried to unfurl a banner displaying the words "Evacuate Manus #BringThemHere".

At 10.30am, five members of a group called the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) were about to spread the banner across the west-facing sail of the building when they were stopped by police.

The protesters held up smaller signs that said "Australian world leaders in cruelty" and "Evacuate Manus".

The action was in protest against the treatment of refugees on Manus Island.

"The Sydney Opera House is Australia's international icon," said Laura Mastwyk, one of the climbers on the Opera House sail.

"But increasingly, our country is internationally recognised for our human rights abuses to refugees," she said in a written statement to the media.

All five climbers were brought down by the NSW Police Rescue & Bomb Disposal Unit, arrested and taken away in police vehicles within 90 minutes of the protest's start.

Another member of the group was arrested earlier, after breaking a lock to gain access to the Opera House sails. He did not climb the building.

Two men aged 23 and 26, and three women aged 25, 27 and 27, were taken to Day Street police station, where they were charged with trespass.

They were granted conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court next month and issued with place restrictions not to enter the Sydney CBD.

Three protesters on the ground - two women and a man - were issued with a move-along direction.

NSW Police will be speaking to venue operators in relation to the matter.

Marco Avena, one of the climbers, called Australia's refugee policy "brutal", and said it had "reduced us as a nation and a community".

"We act today in the interest of our own humanity not just the humanity of those left on Manus Island," he said in the statement from WACA.

WACA spokeswoman Lily Matchett said the group members were protesting "because the Australian government is failing to uphold basic human rights".

"We call on both Liberal and Labor to end offshore detention and bring the refugees here immediately," she said in the statement.

"Right now men on Manus Island are starving, stricken with thirst, and suffering enormous torment. This is the result of incompetence, bigotry, and a sick political process.

"The Australian government must let New Zealand take 150 of the men today and bring the remaining 450 men to Australia and allow them to choose where they resettle," Ms Matchett said.

An application to restore operations at the decommissioned Manus Island processing centre was rejected by Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court this week, increasing pressure on almost 600 men who have refused to relocate to new "transit centres".

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday the new facilities were of a "very high quality" and urged the detainees to move.

The stand-off has been labelled an "unfolding humanitarian emergency" by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The men have been stockpiling rainwater in garbage bins, lost access to medication and authorities have reportedly been turning away PNG locals coming to the centre offering food.

Protesters against Australia's treatment of asylum seekers and refugees had disrupted Melbourne Cup festivities on Tuesday, and warned of escalating action.

Two separate groups intervened in the celebrations; one delaying racegoers by parking a car across a train track and the other unfurling a banner from a crane above Victoria's Flemington track.

This story Activists try to unfurl 'Evacuate Manus' banner on Opera House first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.