Three thousand people to join online protest rally against indefinite detention of people seeking asylum
1 July 2020
Thirty human rights and grassroots community organisations, including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, North Siders with Refugees, Amnesty International, Getup, Rural Australians for Refugees and Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project are holding a Zoom protest rally calling for the release of people seeking asylum from detention on Thursday 2 July, at 6 pm.
Three thousand three hundred people have so far registered to attend the rally and hear from human rights activists and detainees Mostafa ‘Moz’ Azimitabar, Farhad Rahmati, and offshore processing survivor, Betelhem Tabotu.
Minister Peter Dutton has persisted with detaining approximately 1400 people in seven detention centres, including approximately 175 people at Alternative Places of Detention (APODs) at Mantra and Kangaroo Point hotels, in spite of community protests and medical warnings of an acute public health risk of a COVID19 outbreak.
Inside detention centres, people sleep more than two to a room, eat meals and spend most of the day in crowded communal spaces, coming in contact with up to 70 rotating staff daily without any personal protective equipment or access to voluntary testing.
There is no independent legal, medical or political oversight into the management of detention facilities, including adherence to COVID19 protection measures.
The risk is greater in Victoria with second wave COVID19 cases in close surrounding hotspot suburbs of the Mantra hotel APOD.
Many of the people detained have community networks of family and friends, and with a stroke of a pen from the Minister, would be able to live safely in the community and protect themselves from COVID19 transmission.
The Minister must urgently release people from detention centres to avoid an outbreak and cluster of COVID19 cases that would put the whole community at risk and endanger lives.
Rally speaker, musician, human rights activist and Mantra detainee, Mostafa ‘Moz’ Azimitabar said:
“I want the Australian government to release all detainees seeking asylum so we can live with our families and friends in the community.”
“We have been tortured with indefinite detention for seven years, but my message to Australians is love. We are born to love and respect each other. That is all we detainees, as human beings are asking for, especially in the COVID19 crisis.”
Rally speaker, survivor of detention on Nauru, public transport worker and human rights activist Betelhem Tabotu said:
“I was detained in Brisbane and I know what it’s like to be locked up. The world became like a TV I turned on every morning by opening the window.”
“I used to watch people going to work and school, laughing and hugging each other, like actors in a movie I could not be in. I hoped I could be free like them.”
“People detained in detention centres need recovery, not punishment. Many people suffer from mental health conditions from being detained indefinitely for seven years. They need freedom now.”
Rally speaker, civil engineer, human rights activist and Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation detainee, Farhad Rahmati said:
“I want to raise awareness so everyone can know about the pain we have been through in indefinite detention.”
“In seven years, I could have been married, my children could be at school. If you are a teenager, you can go to university and have a job in seven years.”
“Indefinite detention has been a waste of our lives and the resources of the people of Australia.”
“I want the Australian Government to look at the issue of asylum in a humanitarian context, not as a political game anymore. It’s been seven years too long for everyone in Australia’s detention system.”
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Full list of organisations coordinating the rally.