Thousands Gather Outside State Library to Demand End to Refugee Detention

8 March 2021

Thousands gathered outside the State Library on Friday 5 March as a part of a national day of protest against the indefinite detention of refugees in Australia.

Hosted by several community organisations, including the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) and Stand Together for Justice, the rally called for all refugees in onshore and offshore detention facilities to be released and granted a secure pathway to citizenship by the Federal government. 

Speakers at the rally included Kurdish-Iranian author, activist and ex-refugee Behrouz Boochani, who attended virtually from New Zealand, and Mardin Arvin, who was recently released from the Park Hotel in Melbourne. 

Also live streamed were speeches from Abubakar Seddik, who is currently detained at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA), and the Biloela family, who have been detained at Christmas Island for over three years.

University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) Office Bearer and community organiser Srishti Chatterjee was also a speaker at the rally. 

“Think of the human cost of freedom that has been achieved, the community members who have poured their all to compensate for government failure,” they said in their speech. “We have to release [the remaining refugees], they need to heal.”

The rally comes after at least 60 men detained inside Park Hotel in Carlton were released on bridging visas in late January. 

According to community organisers and refugee advocates, around 12 men remain inside the hotel. 

Chatterjee told Farrago about the importance of students showing up to support the detainees.

Students have been monumental in showing up and demanding human rights,” they said.

“We are all students because we want to learn how to make things better and what better way to actually make a difference than to show up for refugees and asylum seekers, who experience some of the worst human rights abuses.”

Daily protests continue to be held outside Park Hotel, demanding the release of the remaining detainees.


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