Refugee car convoy case adjourned again

July 19, 2021
Photo: Heather Smith on Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) / Facebook

The cases of 18 refugee rights activists who participated in a car convoy last year have been adjourned to October 4.

This followed a mention hearing at the Heidelberg Magistrates Court on July 13. It is expected that four other similar cases will be adjourned to the same date.

The 22 were among 30 people who were booked by police on April 10, 2020, while showing solidarity with more than 60 refugees being detained inside the Mantra Hotel in Preston. They were each fined $1652 for allegedly violating a COVID-19 lockdown order.

The refugees had been brought to Australia from Manus Island and Nauru for medical treatment under the now abandoned Medevac law. Most did not receive adequate treatment and all were placed in crowded conditions where guards regularly violated social distancing rules.

The car cavalcade aimed to raise the morale of the refugees and draw attention to the new detention system.

Activists argued that their action was about care and compassion, one of the four reasons people were allowed to leave home at that time.

Some have paid their fines, but most are intending to plead not guilty. Chris Breen, a Refugee Action Collective member who was accused of “incitement”, had his case dismissed earlier this year.

About 20 people gathered outside the Heidelberg Court to voice their support for the right to protest. They heard from Refugee Action Collective member Angelica Panopoulos, National Tertiary Education Union Victorian state secretary Mel Slee and Victorian Greens MP Tim Read.

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