Refugee rights protesters gathered outside the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation to demand the detainees’ freedom. Chris Slee, Andrea Bortoli and Chloe DS report.
Students, unionists and community members protested outside the immigration department on April 11 against the threatened deportation of Kinley Wangchuck, an 18-year-old hearing-impaired student who lives in Queanbeyan, NSW.
Refugee activists have maintained watch at Villawood Detention Centre to stop the deportation of Saeed (not his real name), a 60-year-old Iraqi man, since March 22.
Through the hot days and cooler nights activists have been at each of Villawood’s three entrances, checked every leaving vehicle to see if Saeed is being deported and issued regular calls to action and updates on Facebook livestream in support of Saeed.
The number of people deported because of serious criminal convictions has increased tenfold over the past two years, with New Zealanders bearing the brunt of tougher deportation policies.
Commonwealth Ombudsman Colin Neave said more than 1200 people were deported between January 2014 and February 2016 because of a criminal conviction, including 697 New Zealanders.
He also said the government had broken its promise to revoke visas well before prisoners’ expected release dates, meaning they remain in prison after their release dates while their cases are being determined.