How long, how long, must refugees wait?

I can’t understand this government … a war in Ukraine, civil strife in Sri Lanka, Afghanisatn a mess and the government refuse refugees on character grounds. If police have evidence bring it forward and have it tested. Or are the police themselves acting politically, illegally? Refugee Action Collective is preparing a protest outside Meriton Hotel at Herschel Street in Brisbane at lunchtime on Wednesday 22nd June? Here is their press release. – Ian Curr, Ed., 15 June 2022.

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Brisbane’s Meriton Hotel in Herschel Street is still being used to imprison refugees and 501s in inhuman conditions. (501s are non-citizens the government wants to deport under section 501 of the immigration act)

All the refugees and 501s are confined to their rooms and are only allowed one hour of exercise every second day at the Brisbane Immigration Detention Centre. Some immigration detainees have been held in conditions like this for nearly three years.

During the COVID crisis people suffered stress and anxiety from being confined to their rooms for two weeks. Imagine being confined in a hotel room for months or even years.

The Refugee Action Collective estimates that around 30 people are imprisoned there but it could be up to 80. With detainees isolated from each other in their rooms, and women held on a separate floor to men, there is not an accurate picture of how many inmates are held in the Meriton, and the number is not officially reported. We understand that SERCO, the company contracted to run the Alternative Place of Detention (APOD), controls seven floors of the Meriton.

The Refugee Action Collective (RAC) welcomed the election of the Albanese government and their decision to let the Nadesalingam family return to Biloela. But much more needs to be done. The Nadesalingam family and thousands of others in limbo need permanent visas. 

RAC is also encouraged by Anthony Albanese’s  commitment to New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to consider changes to deportations of 501s to New Zealand. Some of the 501s have lived almost their entire life in Australia and are being seperated from families. Refugees have had their visas cancelled on character grounds even though they are not guilty of any crime. 

Anthony Albanese said on election night said “we should always look after the disadvantaged and the vulnerable”. Many of the most disadvantaged are in immigration detention. Now it is time to act on the hotel Prisons. Close them down now.

Mark Gillespie
Refugee Action Collective
15 June 2022

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