Nine Christian leaders of various church groups in Australia have been arrested after staging a prayer rally outside the office of the country's Minister of Justice Michael Keenan. The movement was carried out to protest against Australia's decision to deport over 260 migrants to the off-shore detention facility in Nauru.
The issue surrounding Nauru, which is located in the Central Pacific, started earlier this month after a female migrant filed a lawsuit against the Australian government. According to the lawyers of the complainant, the country's use of an off-shore detention facility is unconstitutional, BBC reported.
Human rights groups sided with the woman and argued that Nauru does not have proper health facilities to look after the well-being of the migrants. Also, numerous cases of sexual abuse and beatings have been reported from the island.
However, the Supreme Court of Australia ruled that the operations of the detention facility is legal. This prompted the government to deport the 267 migrants, who have been transferred to Australia for medical checkups, back to Nauru. Included in those who will be deported are children and babies who were born in Australia.
Because of this, various groups, including the faith-based Love Makes a Way movement, have organized various protests against the government. Many of them are using the hashtag #LetThemStay to spread awareness about the deportation of the migrants.
"No one should be in detention on Nauru, where there is no functioning hospital - but it would be particularly cruel to rip children out of classrooms and send these 37 babies born on Australian soil," Kate Leaney, the spokesperson for the movement said according to Christian Today.
As for the detained church leaders, they were protesting together with Love Makes a Way. One of their members, theologian Jarrod McKenna noted how ironic it was to be arrested in the Justice Minister's office for holding a prayer rally for the migrants who will be deported.
A supporter of the movement also said that even though the members of the group were only prayer, the authorities responded as if they were aggressive protesters.
The Australian government, however, maintained its decision to send the migrants back to Nauru. Officials said that keeping them inside detention facilities will protect them from traffickers and those who want to exploit them.