Protest to free refugees rescheduled due to threats of fines, will defy law if necessary

Cavalcade protest is safe, detention centres are not – Free the refugees

 “The Refugee Action Collective (RAC) was due to have a car cavalcade protest today at the Mantra hotel in Preston, calling for the release of refugees held there and across Australia, on public health and humanitarian grounds” said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective

“However RAC was told by Preston police that our proposed protest ‘would breach stay at home directions and therefore be illegal’. Police said we faced fines of $1652 for every person who took part, plus heavier fines for RAC as the organising group. We have now rescheduled our protest for Good Friday at 2pm. If refugees remain under threat of Covid-19, we will support them by defying anti-protest laws safely.”

Breen continued “Our protest will be completely safe, it is the detention centres that are unsafe. Our cavalcade will have a maximum of two people per car (from the same household). No-one will get out of their cars. Our protest will be safer than going shopping, safer than travelling on public transport, safer than non-essential work that continues, and safer by an order of magnitude than being stuck in a sealed corridor in the Mantra.”

“Refugees in the Mantra hotel have come to Australia under the Medevac legislation and many have health conditions that make them vulnerable to Covid-19. Airline staff stay regularly at the Mantra in Preston. Serco guards come and go regularly and have been shown multiple times breaching social distancing regulations. A Serco guard in Brisbane tested positive for Covid-19. Activity areas in the Mantra do not have space for social distancing. Men sleep up to 3 to a room in the Mantra. It is only a matter of time before coronavirus devastates detention centres.”

“Over 1200 doctors have signed a letter calling for the release of refugees from detention. Over 38,000 people have signed a petition calling for the release of refugees from detention. ALP federal MPs Ged Kearney and Peter Khalil have called for the release of refugees in the Mantra, and income support for those in the community (speech from Ged Kearney sent to RAC for the cavalcade is attached)”

“The Refugee Action Collective calls on Premier Daniel Andrews to join those calls and not to use Covid-19 to shut down safe public protest. Daniel Andrews should use public health powers to release the refugees to safe accommodation in Victoria. The health of all Victorians would be compromised by a serious outbreak of Covid-19 in detention centres or alternative places of detention in Victoria.”

“RAC has rescheduled the cavalcade for Friday April 10 (Good Friday). We intend to have a safe public show of  solidarity with refugees, even if that means defying the banning of safe public protest. “

“Refugees themselves continue to protest. Refugees at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane will protest today at 5pm. There is a picture below of refugees at the Mantra protesting yesterday (3/4/20)” concluded Breen

For further comments call Chris Breen from the Refugee Action Collective on 0492 910 302