Australia’s abuse of refugees

When international tennis star Novak Djokovic was refused entry to Australia, he was held at Melbourne’s Park Hotel-- a migrant detention center.

Djokovic got out after a few days, but the refugees held alongside him are not as lucky. They have been kept in detention indefinitely for many years and feel they are being treated unfairly, as if they were criminals.

Australia treatment of refugees and asylum seekers has been described as cruel and inhuman by the United Nations. In 2014 the Tony Abbott-led government launched a campaign aimed at deterring refugees from coming to Australia. Its slogan read “No way. They will not make Australia home”.

Asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat are detained indefinitely in off-shore facilities, which rake in billions in government contracts. Australia operates off-shore migrant detention centers notably in neighboring Papa New Guinea, and the island-nation of Nauru, which houses the most infamous facility of all –one that has been compared to Guantanamo Bay.

While some refugees have been resettled in Australia and the US, there are still 107 people in detention on Nauru. The men in the Park Hotel have seen their fair share of detention facilities. They were recently transferred to the Melbourne facility for medical treatment.

The conditions they are forced to live in, however, are horrendous: mold and maggots in the food, windows sealed shut, and lack of hygiene which contributed to a COVID outbreak in late 2021.

Djokovic’s detention has put their plight in the international spotlight. The refugees want the world to know about their struggle and want to be freed. Richard Medhurst sits down to speak with refugee Mehdi Ali who has been in detention for 9 years in Australia.

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