Nine refugees have been released from Melbourne’s infamous Park Hotel but it’s not yet clear whether they’ll actually be able to stay in the country. As if you’d expect anything less from this government’s callous treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.
Late on Friday night, nine refugees were told that they would be released from detention. The news was first broken by The Guardian’s Eden Gillespie via Twitter.
#BREAKING: Hearing from refugees at Park Hotel that around nine men have been offered bridging visas. ABF have not confirmed but I will watch this closely.
— Eden Gillespie (@edengillespie) March 11, 2022
Eight of the men were giving bridging visas and one was given a community detention visa.
According to the Refugee Action Collective Victoria(RAC), the refugees weren’t given a reason for their release.
Somali refugee Ismail Hussein said “they just came and said we are free to go,” as per RAC.
RAC’s Chris Breen criticised the way the men have been treated both in detention and in their release.
“Most of the released men have been given just six-month bridging visas that don’t allow access to welfare. They have been released to a cheap motel, on a long weekend, with almost no support,” Breen said.
“After eight years in detention, they have been traumatised, institutionalised, denied education and the ability to work and gain skills.
“They should be granted permanent visas, compensated, and given full support, not dumped in the community to fend for themselves.”
A spokesperson for the ABF told The Guardian that it couldn’t comment on individual cases. But as reported by The Guardian, bridging visas only allow people to stay in Australia while they find another country to live in. They’re not a pathway for people to be resettled in Australia.
You’d think after forcing these men into years and years of cruel detention, the least our government could do is offer them permanent residency here.
The ABF also gave a statement to SBS.
“Individuals released from immigration detention are provided transitional support through the Status Resolution Support Services program including case worker support, accommodation and financial assistance,” it said.
“The Australian government’s policies have not changed and illegal maritime arrivals will not be settled in Australia.”
Refugee Muhammad Jamal celebrated his release from detention but called for the government to free the other Park Hotel detainees.
“Please @ScottMorrisonMP release all my remaining friends,” he wrote.
“Nine years too long!”
Today me and 8 other get released from park hotel with the help of community support but still some of our friends are locked inside. Please @ScottMorrisonMP release all my remaining friends
— Muhammad Jamal (@Jamal510254) March 11, 2022
Refugees and activists Mehdi Ali and Adnan Choopani were released from Park Hotel earlier this month. Mehdi and Adnan have both been vocal about the awful conditions they faced in detention.
Both men have now been resettled in the US and called for the government to release the rest of the refugees in Park Hotel.
Tonight I am free and leaving Australia to start my life in the United States of America. But I won’t be happy until all my friends are get released from detention. It’s not freedom until we are all free. Thank you all for your support.
— Mehdi Ali (@MehdiAli98) March 3, 2022
Great to be free from #aus old fashioned immigration system.
Proud to call America home🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸.
My sudden release should make it clear that the #ausgov is in a breaking point.
Time to fight harder to see all my friends walk free.
We got the power let’s just believe it. pic.twitter.com/VCzAl5IFcj
— Adnan Choopani (@AdnanChoopani) March 3, 2022
As well as the nine refugees from Park Hotel, RAC said that one man was released from Broadmeadows detention centre and three were released from Brisbane detention centre.
There are still an estimated 50 refugees trapped in detention around Australia.