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Hundreds of students have shut down access to three separate sites in Melbourne to highlight corporate, government and university complicity in the cycle of war, climate destruction and abuse of refugees.

This morning hundreds of students entered and shut down three separate buildings in Melbourne’s CBD, including BHP, Border Force (Department of Home Affairs) and Melbourne University, to protest each organisation’s role in the abuse and torture of refugees and asylum seekers, research and development of military technology, and the destruction of the climate.

The students have blocked access to workers at each action site. At Melbourne University students have used barrel pipe locks across the main doors of the administration building while others at BHP and Border Force have used their bodies to block worker access to the buildings.

The students claim they have taken action today to highlight a series of interlinked oppressions and the destructive system they claim is upheld by Governments, universities and corporations that fuel the neoliberal agenda via corporatism, militarism, the violent oppression of human rights, the abuse of refugees and the deliberate destruction of the environment.

Spokesperson Lily Matchett stated,

“Our solutions to the global humanitarian and environmental crisis we all face cannot be through militarisation of our public policy and our institutions. Australia’s military spending has a direct impact on climate change, and causes an increase in the number of refugees seeking asylum in Australia and elsewhere around the world.”

“We can no longer behave as though the actions of governments, corporations and institutions are independent of each other. In an era where are our rights are being eroded it is up to us all to speak out and take action. If we are to have any chance of reducing the impacts of climate change, and creating a peaceful world where human rights are upheld, it is essential that we treat these elements as a whole, whose impacts are much greater than the sum of their parts”.

A surge in extreme weather events caused by climate change has led to the forced migration of climate displaced peoples becoming an increasing reality, leading to what is slated to be the biggest refugee crisis in history. Many of those most imminantly affected are our close neighbours in the Pacific Islands. Further, with the recent increase in Australia’s military spending, we are forced to recognise Australia’s role in displacing vulnerable people around the globe and the abuse of many of those people’s rights as they flee violence or climate change. Our continued backing of US wars of aggression (whose military is the biggest user of fossil fuels on the world), from Iraq to Palestine to Syria, renders us directly responsible for many of the refugees and asylum seekers now fleeing their homes and seeking refuge in this country.

“We want to expose the links between violent structures of oppression operating in this country and show that the system is crafted to serve a select few that are creating war, destroying our planet and abusing human rights.  We want to uproot the system and work for a future where we all can thrive. Students have often been at the forefront of social change and we want to visiblise the violence that this country is built upon”, said spokesperson Lily Matchett

This action takes place after 400 people congregated in Melbourne for the Students of Sustainability (SOS) conference. This convergence is an annual gathering organised by students and attended by people from around the country to participate in workshops on environmental and social justice.