Protesters call for freedom for refugees

Activists rally in Melbourne. Photo: Chloe DS

Small rallies calling for the freedom of detained refugees were held at eight locations across the CBD and suburbs on June 13.

The rallies were limited in size due to emergency regulations banning gatherings of more than 20 people, and police threats to fine people if this limit was exceeded. All were peaceful, with protesters respectful of public health concerns by wearing masks and staying socially distanced.

At several locations, pre-recorded speeches from detained refugees Moz and Mehrtash were played, as well as a message from Aran Mylvaganam from the Tamil Refugee Council.

Moz said: “We have been locked in detention for more than 2500 days” and asked why the federal government is paying $355,000 a year to “maintain this regime of torture with your taxes”.

“Where is the opposition party?” he asked. “The silence of the Labor Party is deafening.”

“Shame on those politicians who are silent against this cruelty”, he said, urging activists to “push them and embarrass them”.

First Nations activist Lidia Thorpe addressed those rallying outside the Mantra Hotel in Preston, where 65 refugees are being detained.