RISE eX-detainees call for the urgent release of refugees being detained by the Australian government in two hotels – Mantra Bell City Hotel, Victoria and Kangaroo Point Central Hotel, Queensland.
Every one of them has been evacuated to Australia for medical treatment after being held hostage by the Australian government for more than 7 years in PNG and Nauru. 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.
There is no time to waste.
After being subjected to years of detention torture and trauma in the camps run by the Australian government on the Pacific islands of Manus and Nauru, and having witnessed deaths and suicides of their fellow refugees on these islands, we ask:
- Why do they continue to be imprisoned and penalised by the Australian government for simply asking for protection and a right to life, including medical treatment for debilitating medical conditions?
- Why is the Australian government ignoring established medical evidence that detention not only hinders recovery from illness, but also creates illness?
- Why are they being detained during this pandemic when they are at serious risk of contracting a virus that is known to be life threatening, in addition to existing medical conditions?
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.
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.
Finally, the eX-detainee community in Australia urges non-eX-detainee or non-detainees 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.
Act now and contact those who are responsible for keeping our community members in disarray and hold them accountable.
- Template letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and acting immigration minister Alan Tudge
- Take action on refugee detention lobbying Kangaroo Point Central
- Take action on refugee detention in Mantra Bell City Hotel
This post was originally published on RISE.