Asylum seekers on hunger strike, sewing their lips and swallowing razor blades

Girl with candle

At sunset tomorrow, Australians across the country will be lighting the dark in memory of Reza Barati. Will you join them? Tomorrow marks exactly one year since the tragic events on Manus Island that resulted in the death of Reza Barati, a 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker who was brutally killed while in our care on Manus last year. When Australians heard of Reza's death, we came together in our hundreds and thousands. We stood side by side to express our sorrow and our anger for Reza's death, and for all those who Australia failed to protect. We lit candles in the hope that this tragedy would mark a turning point in history and force our nation's leaders to rethink our treatment of asylum seekers. We showed Australia, and the world, that we can – and must – be better than this. Together, we gave hope to those who continue to suffer under our government's inhumane policies. It was an incredibly moving testament to the strength of our movement, and proved that our government's policies were not reflective of our nation's conscience.


Click here to see how we lit the dark together. Now a year has passed, and our message is still as pertinent as it was last February. The detention centre on Manus still remains, as does the suffering it inflicts. It was only last month that we heard reports of asylum seekers on hunger strike, sewing their lips and swallowing razor blades. These claims were denied point-blank by the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton – that was, until media reports forced him to admit otherwise. Tomorrow night let's light the dark to remind Australia and our political leaders that we have not forgotten Reza, nor have we forgotten the more than a thousand detainees who remain on the island, out of sight, but not out of our minds. For as long as there are people suffering on Manus, we will be here fighting for them.

Tomorrow, 17 February, at sunset, people across the country will light a candle in their window in memory of Reza and in hope for a better way forward. Will you join them? With our friends as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), we'll be collating photos and messages from around Australia, for an online display of hope and compassion here:

If you're on Twitter or Instagram, you can post a photo of you and your candle using the #LightTheDark hashtag. If you're not, you can submit your photo and message of hope here.

Tomorrow evening, let's light up Australia with candles in every window in memory of Reza, and for all those still in detention who need hope more than ever. Together, let's create a visual message that is impossible to ignore – one that makes clear to our government, to asylum seekers, and to the world, that Australians don't support the injustices being perpetrated in our name. Reza's tragic death last year sparked a conversation our country desperately needed to have. Now it's up to all of us to keep that conversation going and make sure the message is not lost.

In memory of Reza and in hope for a more compassionate future,

Aurora, Erin, Alycia, Leah and the GetUp team

GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you'd like to contribute to help fund GetUp's work, please donate now!


Our team acknowledges that we meet and work on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We wish to pay respect to their Elders - past, present and future - and acknowledge the important role all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within Australia and the GetUp community.

Authorised by Sam Mclean, Level 2, 104 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.