News National Refugees moved to new hotel after months of detention

Refugees moved to new hotel after months of detention

Refugee advocates protest during the police operation. Photo: AAP
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One of the refugees who has been moved from detention in the Mantra hotel in Melbourne says his new accommodation is “horrible”.

Kurdish refugee Moz Azimi was one of about 60 medevac refugees transferred to the Park hotel in Carlton on Thursday morning.

“It’s horrible, this is a horrible place,” he said.

Mr Azimi says he has to share his new room, which is smaller, and has one window that does not open.

“I can see just cement, I can’t see the world,” he said.

Mr Azimi arrived in Australia in July 2013, and in 2017 he was granted refugee status.

But he has been in detention for more than seven years.

In a statement, Australian Border Force (ABF) confirmed the people detained in the Mantra in Preston have all been moved out of the hotel.

“Transitory people are encouraged to finalise their medical treatment in Australia so they can continue on their resettlement pathway,” the statement says.

It also says none of the people whose cases have been dealt with under regional processing arrangements will be settled in Australia.

About 60 men have been held in indefinite detention at the Mantra for up to 18 months.

The men had previously been transferred from detention on Manus Island so they could receive medical treatment in mainland Australia.

Refugee advocate Chris Breen says transferring the men from detention in one hotel to the next is cruel, especially when some hoped they might be released instead.

“The government can’t hold these people forever,” he said.

Mr Breen is one of 30 activists charged over a protest held during Melbourne’s lockdown earlier this year, in which about thirty protesters drove their cars around the Mantra.

There have been daily protests at the Mantra hotel over the past fortnight, including scuffles with police.

Darebin Councillor Susan Rennie was among half a dozen people arrested outside the hotel on Thursday morning.

A lawyer representing some of the refugees, Alison Battisson, said the men were not told where they were going until they arrived, and were given just minutes to pack their belongings.

“It was a very militaristic operation so it was clearly a while in the planning,” Ms Battisson said.

She said a recent Federal Court ruling meant the detainees must be released unless there are plans to provide them with medical care.

Ms Battisson said the ruling may create legal issues for the owners of the Park Hotel.

“I don’t know if these companies got legal advice … I’d be very concerned if I was them,” she said.