Pro-asylum seeker protesters force suspension of Australian parliament

Security guards hold a protester as they remove a group from the House of Representatives after they began chanting slogans regarding the offshore detention of asylum seekers during Question Time in Parliament House, Canberra, Australia

SYDNEY (Reuters) – About 30 protesters clashed with security guards at Australia’s parliament on Wednesday, some gluing themselves to handrails and shouting “close the camps”, in a rowdy demonstration against the detention of asylum seekers in remote Pacific camps.

The protesters, who reached the parliamentary public gallery above sitting politicians, forced Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to leave the chamber and the suspension of parliament.

Many protesters were wrestled to the ground by security and dragged from the chamber.

“We are here today because you have become world leaders in cruelty,” one protester shouted, according to local media.

Under Australia’s tough border security policy, asylum seekers intercepted trying to reach the country by boat are sent for processing at the camps on Papua New Guinea’s Manus island and Nauru in the South Pacific.

Both major Australian political parties support the offshore detention policy, which has won elections, despite widespread criticism by the United Nations and human rights groups which say the detention amounts to abuse.

Even if detainees are determined to be genuine refugees, a process which can take years, they are still banned from resettling in Australia.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry)