Monir Hossein fled his home in Bangladesh because of political violence. He spoke to Green Left’s Chloe de Silva from the Kangaroo Point hotel detention in Brisbane in February.
On March 1, he was one of the 25 people released. “I arrived from Manus Island to Kangaroo Point, Brisbane on November 7th 2019 under the Medevac laws. Today, I am being released after almost 8 years!
“I am really happy for my freedom this morning! I’m really excited about my freedom! Twenty-five of us are currently waiting on a bus to Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation to collect our belongings.”
Back in February, Hossein told me he considered himself lucky to be determined a refugee by the Australian Border Force as part of Operation Sovereign Borders.
“I passed the interview and the rules which decide who is a genuine refugee. Many people from my country got negative statements. I was one of the lucky people who received a positive statement; it means I cannot be sent back to my country, back to danger.
“I arrived from Manus to Kangaroo Point, Brisbane on November 7, 2019 under the Medevac law. Now, I’m still here. I received 3 months of treatment, then the treatment finished.”
Hossein talked about his nightmares from making the dangerous journey by boat from Bangladesh, to Indonesia, to Christmas Island for 18 days, and then being stuck on Papua New Guinea for 6 and a half years.
“I was only 21 when I came to Australia; I was so young. Now I am 27 years old and am still stuck. It’s been a very hard time and I’m so frustrated. I get 2 hours of sleep. I dream I am still in the ocean, and I need my freedom and my safety.”
Like many other Medevac refugees who have been in hotel prison for almost two years, Hossein made the heartbreaking decision to voluntarily go back to Papua New Guinea because, as he said, “This government is cruel and is punishing innocent people”.
He said the process is designed to silence refugees. “When we call our case manager, we are given no update. They just say they are processing, or they stay quiet. No one is helping us, they don’t care”.
Hossein described the Department of Home Affairs and Serco, which runs the detention regime, as a “huge, human business”, which is profiting from misery.
“Serco, Australian Border Force, case workers, Scott Morrison, Tony Abbott, Peter Dutton, everyone [is the] same: all torture and with no compassion, no human heart.”
Hossein left his father, mother and three younger brothers behind in Bangladesh. His father has since died. “I am responsible for all of my family. They are so worried about me and how long I stay in the detention. If I talk to them, they cry.”
“Thank you for supporting us and fighting for all refugees. Many Australians are kind and you do your best to keep fighting. Everyone is watching your protests.”
Referring to the mainstream media, Monir said he doesn’t trust it. “Sky news, BBC, Seven News, Nine News … the media is so racist. It tells people to ‘follow the government’.
“We’ve been stuck here for 8 years and this detention is funded by the government and our struggle as refugees and our suffering is [hardly] mentioned by media.”
When Green Left spoke to Hossein in February, he was starting to lose hope. He said it was difficult to keep his spirits up.
“We continue to suffer 24 hours a day. I didn’t get any treatment and I might go back to PNG. At least there we had more freedom. Here, there is no treatment, no sunlight and we suffer mentally. This is my story.”