Call for ‘cruel’ detention to end as refugees released
More than 60 refugees held at the Park Hotel in Carlton have been granted temporary bridging visas, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) said.
The centre announced 26 refugees received six-month visas on Wednesday and another 34 would be released from the hotel on Thursday.
This comes after the men were brought to Australia from offshore detention on Manus Island in 2019 to seek medical care under the now-repealed medevac legislation.
By December, the men had spent 16 months detained at the Mantra Bell City hotel in Preston before being told they were being moved to another location.
Speaking from inside the hotel in December, Kurdish-Iranian refugee Mostafa "Moz" Azimitabar told Leader he was "devastated" refugees and asylum seekers were being relocated to another facility as they had been pleading for freedom for months.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre chief executive Kon Karapanagiotidis said about 140 people transferred under Medevac laws were still being held in detention across Australia and the centre was calling for all refugees to be immediately released.
"People detained for seven years by the government have suffered deteriorating health and unimaginable loss, yet have become a part of our community and have won tens of thousands of supporters in Australia who have called for their freedom," he said.
ASRC advocacy and campaigns director Jana Favero said the seven year wait is an "policy failure" and "shameful."
"The Morrison Government must reveal its plan for a permanent resettlement solution after seven years of abject policy failure, medical neglect and the loss of many lives under its shameful, inhumane offshore processing and indefinite detention policies," she said.
The Refugee Council of Australia welcomed the news and said the "cruel practice" must end, writing on Twitter: "We are heartened to hear the Federal government have released 26 people from hotel detention in Melbourne. Congrats to all those working tirelessly to end this cruel practice. Now it is time to release to close to 200 other people."
Australian Border Force was contacted for comment.
Originally published as Call for 'cruel' detention practice to end as refugees released