This week, 51 refugees were released from detention in Melbourne’s Park Hotel, where they’d been languishing since December. It’s a huge win for both them and the advocates campaigning for their release, but what about the 14 people left, who are right now waiting in limbo?
So why are these asylum seekers and refugees currently in Melbourne? Well, according to the Sydney Morning Herald they were transferred from off-shore detention to Australia under the now-repealed Medevac laws. The laws allowed them to come to the country for serious medical treatment.
In December last year, they were transferred from Mantra Hotel in Preston where they were residing for a year to the Park Hotel in Carlton, which is in the heart of Melbourne.
Since then, activists have been protesting outside the hotel, calling for the release of the 60 men imprisoned. One of the organisations behind this movement is Stand Together For Justice, which started daily protests in December to raise awareness.
PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke to one of the community organiser’s for Stand Together For Justice, Srishti Chatterjee about why it’s important to literally stand together for the 14 that are still detained.
“What is extremely important is that people continue to show up to the daily protests organised by Stand Together for Justice- it’s usually us sharing a meal outside while waving to them and getting cars and trams to honk for support,” Chatterjee said.
“It reminds our friends inside that we love them, we care about them, and we want them here. Among us.”
One of the refugees released yesterday was Mostafa Azimitabar (Moz), who was held in detention for eight years. Yes, eight years locked away for literally exercising his right to seek asylum.
In 2013, Moz was sent to a detention centre in Manus Island for attempting to seek asylum. During that time, he witnessed riots and told The Feed he went without food for 24 days and had to dig for water when Australia withdrew all its services in 2017.
Moz has held a fighting-spirit throughout his time in detention, creating music and documenting his struggle on social media. In doing so he has attracted so much love and support from the public, including support from Jimmy Barnes‘ wife, Jane. She even invited him to attend a Jimmy Barnes gig this Saturday.
“The reason that I am alive is that I felt, for eight years in detention, I was not alone,” Moz told The Feed.
“I always felt that there are many people in Australia who care about refugees, humanity and love.”
However, there are still 14 men that remain indefinitely at Park Hotel as well as many other Australian detention centres. So here’s a list of things that you can do to help, according to Stand Together For Justice.
Attend one of the daily protests outside Park Hotel
Every day of the week you can show your support by heading down to 701 Swanston Street, Carlton where the Medevac refugees are currently being held.
Monday to Friday from 5pm, Weekends from 3pm.
There are also weekly Friday dinners, where the public can come together and speak to the detainees over the phone while sharing a meal.
Attend one of the other many protests
Saturday, January 23
After the Releases: Where To Now For The Refugee Movement, Lincoln Square Park, 11am- 3pm
Saturday, January 30
United Rally: Free the Park Hotel Refugees! 701 Swanston Street, Carlton, 2-4pm
Saturday, February 13
Free the Medevac Refugees! State Library of Victoria, 2-4pm
Sign a petition
There are currently over 19,000 signatures on a Change.org petition calling on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to speak up against anti-refugee cruelty in Australia.
Contact Vic Premier Daniel Andrews and your local MPs
“We can still call politicians – flood Peter Dutton’s office, email Scott Morrison, email Daniel Andrews and ask him to support and repatriate them into the Victorian community. Remind them that while we rejoice because many of our friends are free, we won’t stop until each one of them are free,” Chatterjee told P.TV.
Stand Together For Justice have also put together a call script to assist you.