About 400 people protested in the Australian city of Melbourne Saturday against the offshore detention of asylum seekers, a news report said, as the future of the detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island remains uncertain.
The PNG government said earlier this week that the detention centre, on an island 500 kilometres north of its mainland, would close following a court ruling.
Two of the people at the rally outside Melbourne Town Hall said they were friends of an Iranian asylum seeker who died from burns after he set himself alight in Nauru last Wednesday, broadcaster ABC reported.
"I'm very sad for [asylum seeker] Omid's family and wife, my friends in Manus and Nauru. There are a lot of good people on Nauru and Manus — they are human, you know?" said one of the men, who met Omid while they too were in detention.
Australian and PNG officials are scheduled to hold talks over the Manus Island facility in the coming week.
In another development, the Australian government may need to find a new private company to run the camps on Manus Island and Nauru.
A Spanish firm, Ferrovial, has just taken over the Australian company which operates the two centres. Ferrovial announced Saturday it would not continue the detention centre aspect of the business.
"Ferrovial's view is that this activity will not form part of its services offering in the future," the company said in a statement.
Broadspectrum’s contract does not expire until February 2017 and the Australian government said it expects the company to meet its contractual obligations, the ABC reported.