About 150 people rallied outside the Mantra Hotel in Preston on December 15. They chanted “Don't move them, set them free” in solidarity with the 60 refugees detained inside.
The detained men were told days before they will be shifted to another prison hotel in an unknown location.
Refugee Action Collective spokesperson Chris Breen, who chaired the rally, said the asylum seekers should not be moved but freed and given a permanent home.
Ged Kearney, Labor MP for the seat of Cooper, said that the detention of these refugees, who were brought to Australia under the now-repealed medevac law is “unlawful”.
Gaetano Greco, deputy mayor of Darebin, said that the council is willing to organise local residents to take refugees into their homes if they are released.
Samantha Ratnam, leader of the Victorian Greens, described the situation as a “national shame” and called on the Victorian government to advocate for the refugees in the national cabinet.
Luke Hilakari, Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary, criticised the asylum seeker policies of both the Coalition government and the Labor opposition. He said that the union movement supports the campaign to free the refugees.
Moz, speaking by phone from inside the Mantra Hotel, thanked the protestors, saying: “When we see you, we realise we are not alone”.
Ramsi, another refugee in the Mantra, also thanked the protestors.
Refugee supporters have been protesting outside the Mantra at 5pm on weekdays and at 3pm on weekends.