Campaign secures release of last family from Darwin detention

Photo: Justine Davis

“August 21 was our last day at the fence”, Justine Davis said, marking the end of an incredible community effort to keep the public spotlight on refugees unjustly imprisoned in a detention facility behind Mercure Darwin Airport Resort.

Together with members of Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN), Davis has been campaigning for the safety and wellbeing of the refugees for a massive 540 days.

On August 22, the DASSAN was celebrating the release of the last family, the Maghames. The family was the last to be brought to Australia under the now defunct Medevac law. On the same day, 33 refugees were also released from Melbourne and Brisbane.

“Our fight for justice is not over,” Davis told Green Left, because many of the Medevac refugees are still in community detention.

The Maghames family arrived in Australia by boat in 2013 and were taken to Christmas Island before being transferred to Nauru in March 2014. They spent seven years on Nauru before being transferred to Darwin last year for medical assistance.

They had been granted refugee status in 2019 by the United Nations on the grounds of being members of a persecuted ethnic minority in Iran.

Other detained refugees, Afsaneh, Mojtaba and Benham, were transferred to Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) two weeks ago, Davis said, then sent to Brisbane and released into community detention while waiting for visas to go to the United States.

They have not yet received news of permanent resettlement and Davis is concerned that community detention is an unnecessary denial of freedom. Further, she said, Afsaneh’s brother Hamed has been detained at MITA since November 27, 2018, and “has not been sent to be with the rest of his family in community detention in Brisbane”.

“This family is once again being ripped apart,” David said, adding that DASSAN will continue to fight for them to be reunited, for permanent protection and “to have certainty over their future”.

Davis is also concerned about the more than 100 refugees still in Nauru.  Some, including Parmika and Kiru, returned to Nauru in March because, Davis said, “the conditions of detention in Darwin were unbearable.

“We are fighting for the more than 100 Medevac refugees who remain in detention facilities around Australia and to end the Australian government’s cruel policy of indefinite detention.”

[Stay in touch with DASSAN on instagram or the DASSAN Facebook page.]