Several people were removed from the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) centre in Broadmeadows and taken to the airport on May 3, likely to be deported to Christmas Island. Activists tried to block the exits but police, many in riot gear, and Serco security staff helped bust through.
Many MITA detainees are 501 visa holders, which mean they can be deported at the discretion of the immigration minister Alex Hawke.
I took part in the blockade and an action to repel a convoy containing detainees from exiting from the rear of MITA. Dozens of chanting refugee rights activists pushed the fence back, initially successfully preventing the detainees from being removed.
Unfortunately, the blockade was breached at around 5pm by an aggressive line of police.
Several protesters were pushed to the ground and some were pepper sprayed.
The government chose to remove these detainees on May 3, in the middle of the federal election campaign, as the Victorian government brought down its budget and at the end of Ramadan, a time when attention was focused elsewhere.