eX-detainees demand the immediate release of refugee detainees at The Park Hotel Melbourne, along with state accountability and action for permanent protection and community settlement.
There are over 30 Refugee detainees being held hostage within the City of Melbourne CBD (Carlton) in The Park Hotel Melbourne. RISE eX-detainees condemn the detention torture of these refugees on the premises of this hotel. Every one of them has been evacuated to Australia for medical treatment after being held hostage by the Australian government for more than 8 years in PNG and Nauru. This is the reality of the Medivac Bill and its failures- and now we are living with the effects.
With COVID-19 even spreading within the Australian Defence force, Australian Border Force and other staff working in refugee detention sites, their situation has become even more dire and immediate action is required. All of the detainees suffer from serious medical illnesses and are most likely to be immunocompromised.
COVID-19 risk to the detainees is also a dire concern to infectious diseases experts, peak medical bodies and the Australian Human Rights Commissioner as a significant health and human rights issue which must be addressed immediately. The Australian government’s own Department of Health identifies people held in detention as among those “most at risk” of contracting COVID-19, and those with chronic illnesses at highest risk of serious illness if they are infected.
In addition to the Australian government’s violations of refugee rights, we are concerned that the tourism and hospitality industry is complicit in refugee detention torture. Large hotel groups in the USA including the Marriott, Hilton, Best Western, Wyndham, Choice and IHG have all issued statements saying they do not want to see their hotels being used for detention, according to The Associated Press. The Hyatt and MGM Resorts International have also vowed that their hotels will not be used by USA immigration authorities.
We call on the Australian hotel and hospitality industry to take similar steps and stop benefiting from the dirty profits of refugee detention and we demand the following:
- Immediately release all the detainees into the community with proper humanitarian, financial and medical support, without further delay.
- Grant all the detainees permanent protection.
- Immediately allow all detainees to apply for family reunion under the humanitarian category, and fast track the processing of their applications.
- Fast track their permanent residence to citizenship.
Further, eX-detainees condemn the City Of Melbourne who claims to be a “Refugee Welcoming Zone” while allowing the Border Force to arbitrarily detain Refugees within their region. The track record of the City of Melbourne being a “refugee welcoming zone” continues to be a lie and devastating. We haven’t forgotten the City of Melbourne’s Multicultural hub was used as a immigration detention site, where families were trapped for hours in 2016 from 9am to around 2pm, in the Drill hall (https://www.riserefugee.org/50-asylum-seeker-families-trapped.) When RISE eX-detainees reached out to the City of Melbourne and raised our concerns about the suffering of our community members, they whitewashed these actions and provided excuses in return. Furthermore, when we requested that the City of Melbourne should become a Sanctuary City for refugees seeking asylum our request was dismissed.
Indefinite and arbitrary detention is a form of torture. Is the City of Melbourne supporting hospitality and accommodation services in its region or endorsing refugee detention torture services?
The City of Melbourne and other local councils hyping themselves as “Refugee Welcome Zones” while also licencing businesses who profit from the detention of Refugees and/or allowing Australian Border Force to arbitrarily detain refugees in the region is inexcusable. This is white supremacist refugee practice in action – using sugar-coated, meaningless words to obscure the reality and effects of cruel policies of indefinite and arbitrary detention.
Finally, the eX-detainee community in Australia urges non-eX-detainee or non-detainee refugee advocates to stop continuously recommending harmful, ad hoc, piecemeal solutions for our community. This includes recommending insecure housing solutions or “release” into community detention or asking the government to release refugee detainees without pushing for long term, sustainable, systemic changes that benefit all members of the refugee community.
We eX-detainees want freedom and sanctuary for our peers, not short term solutions that only lead to further discrimination and restrictions on our freedom and right to live. We know what we need, and yet our voices are too often ignored- and the Medivac Bill as just one prime example.
‘Nothing About Us Without Us’
There is no time to waste.