Kangaroo Point banners seized as more refugees moved to BITA

November 26, 2020
Longer Tables, not higher fences solidarity day, November 11. Photo: Alex Bainbridge
Longer Tables, not higher fences solidarity day, November 11. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

The iconic black and white banners displayed by refugees at the Kangaroo Point hotel-cum-prison have been seized by Serco and/or Border Force.

Talking to Green Left, Amin Afravi explained that he is one of several refugees who have been moved against their will from the Kangaroo Point “alternative place of detention” to the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accomodation (BITA) detention centre near the Brisbane airport.

Prior to his transfer, the big banners were kept in his room when not on display.

However, Afravi said the banners were taken when he was moved from the hotel. “They didn’t give them to me in here [BITA] and they didn’t give them to the guys back in Kangaroo Point.”

Over several months, more than 20 refugees who were detained at Kangaroo Point have been moved to BITA. Even though it is not far from Brisbane airport, it is inaccessible and largely invisible to the public unlike Kangaroo Point, which is on a major inner city thoroughfare.

BITA is also a much higher security complex.

Afravi said he has not been told exactly why he had been transferred but said it likely to be for a few reasons, including that he has been speaking out for justice. He also said that the confiscation of the banners and conducting a search his room are also reasons.

Afravi emphasised that this would not stop him from speaking out.

“If they think they can shut me down with those things, they don’t know me. Even if they send me to the Moon, still I will speak up.”

Afravi was brought to Australia from Manus Island to get medical treatment under the Medevac laws. However, he never received the specialist health care he needs.

Afravi has a skin condition which can be eased with air conditioning. In Kangaroo Point, he had his own room and was able to adjust the air conditioning without inconveniencing other refugees.

At BITA, Border Force insists he stay in a room with other detainees. This means he is forced to either be uncomfortable or create friction with others.

In protest, he has taken to sleeping outside the room, where he has encountered snakes.

During our interview, Serco guards came and seized his personal possessions which I witnessed by video link. It is unclear where his possessions are now.

Asked about the Serco guards, Afravi said: “They are robots, they are not human beings”.

“[Whenever] they get orders from Border Force or their bosses they will do exactly what they’ve been told,” he said.

Afravi told Green Left about being attacked on Manus Island in 2014 in which a security guard cut his throat. The injury required 16 stitches.

“So it doesn’t matter [if they talk to us respectfully] or not because they are not trustworthy. I cannot trust them because they are hurting me, they hurt me a lot.”

[The campaign to free all the refugees continues with regular actions at the Kangaroo Point detention facility including a weekend GetThemOut Camp Out and rally from December 11–13.]

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