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article imageRefugee protest at Australian Open final

By AFP     Feb 1, 2015 in World

Play was held up during the Australian Open men's final on Sunday when a banner was unfurled protesting against the treatment of refugees, with one person jumping on centre court.

Security officials quickly encircled Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray during a changeover in the second set with the Serbian world number one leading 7-6 (7/5), 4-3.

A white banner unfurled over advertising hoardings on the side of the court on Rod Laver Arena read "Australia Open for Refugees #shutdownmanus."

A woman was carried from the court by security officials with at least four others, wearing Australian Open Refugee t-shirts, led from the grandstands before play resumed after five minutes.

Neither player seemed affected by the stoppage.

Several dignitaries were in the crowd, including tennis legends Margaret Court and Rod Laver and Australian Hollywood stars Toni Collette and Eric Bana.

Australia has adopted a hardline policy against asylum-seekers arriving by boat, which has frequently sparked criticism.

Since July 2013 the government has sent boatpeople to camps on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and Nauru in the Pacific.

They are denied resettlement in Australia even if they are found to be genuine refugees.

A protest against Australia's treatment of refugees delayed the tennis at the Australian Open
A protest against Australia's treatment of refugees delayed the tennis at the Australian Open
William West, AFP/File

The policy is designed to stop the flow of boatpeople heading to Australia, who had been arriving almost daily in often unsafe wooden fishing vessels, with hundreds drowning en route.

Earlier this month, hundreds of asylum-seekers angry at their living conditions on Manus Island and the possibility of being permanently resettled in the Pacific nation went on hunger strike.

Refugee advocates claimed several of them swallowed razor blades and washing powder before the protest was broken after several days.

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