An “End Detention Now! Free the refugees!” action, organised by Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN) and Pride in Protest, and supported by the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) involved more than 40 cars in a cavalcade to Villawood Detention Centre on May 30.
There is a growing mental health crisis taking place in detention facilities in Australia. Detainees say there have been several suicide attempts in the prison hotels of Kangaroo Point in Brisbane and Mantra in Melbourne. The detainees in those two hotels were transferred here from Manus Island and Nauru for specialist medical care, but have not received any.
Despite the high risk of coronavirus infection in detention centres, the federal government is refusing to protect the asylum seekers. As at the end of March, there were 427 individuals being held at Villawood.
The car convoy gathered in a nearby Bunnings car park and proceeded to the gates of the detention centre where protesters called for refugees to be released, for permanent visas and full resettlement rights to be given and to reject the federal government’s efforts to ban mobile phones to detainees.
Speakers stressed the health threats faced by refugees in detention, and the urgent need for them to be released on health and safety grounds in a time of COVID-19 pandemic. They declared that the campaign to free the refugees would continue until all asylum seekers were released into the community.