Refugee Action Collective in Melbourne organised a well-attended protest on January 9, calling for an end to all forms of detention.
Specifically, it called for the immediate freedom for all refugees, including the Medevac refugees currently imprisoned by the federal government at the Park Hotel prison in Carlton.
The protest drew more than 700 people, with more than 45 organisations (including Unionists for Refugees, Victorian Trades Hall Council, Doctors for Refugees and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre) endorsing the event.
Hundreds of protesters noisily marched down Swanston Street from the State Library to the Park Hotel Prison, to show solidarity with the 60 detainees and bring attention to the grave injustice they have faced for more than seven years under Australia’s harsh and racist immigration policies.
There was a large police presence.
The featured speakers included: Mostafa Azimitabar (also known as “Moz” from Manus Island) who is now detained in the Park Hotel; Farhad Bandesh, a recently released Medevac refugee; Samantha Ratnam, leader of the Victorian Greens; Craig Foster, a football player and #GameOver campaigner; Pip Carew, assistant state secretary of the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation and Ahmad Hakim from Refugee Voices.
The protest organisers encouraged refugees to address the crowd.
The rally was organised with the current health restrictions in mind, and included marshals who handed out masks and sanitizer.