The World Is Learning About Australia’s Horrible Treatment Of Medevac Refugees
While Novak Djokovic will leave be able to leave Park Hotel, over 30 detainees are stuck there indefinitely.
The anticipated deportation of controversial tennis star Novak Djokovic has drawn international attention to Australia’s treatment of refugees, after he was placed in the same hotel as Medevac detainees over his visa.
Djokovic was sent to Melbourne’s Park Hotel when the Federal Government cancelled his visa on Thursday for failing to provide enough evidence of his vaccination exemption, and is expected to spend the weekend there ahead of the Australian Open tournament this Monday.
The building, which has been described as a “hotel prison” by activist groups, has seen larger crowds than usual outside in the last 24 hours, as the tennis player’s fans rally alongside refugee advocates.
Medevac refugees were brought to Australia from offshore detention centres for medical treatment in 2019, and have been locked inside ever since. The total length of time in detention at the hands of the Australian Government both here and overseas surpassed nine years last July.
“They put him in some immigration hotel, if we can say this is a ‘hotel’, with some bugs, and with terrible food, and accommodation. And they don’t allow him to move [elsewhere],” Djokovic’s mother told the media on Friday.
Park Hotel in particular has been scrutinised for its lack of fresh air and light, and major COVID outbreaks. Last month, the estimated 30 detainees currently inside were served food with maggots and mould in it, just a week after multiple small fires broke out in the five-storey building.
“Novak can be very grateful he is detained under such conditions for nine hours or days, and not nine years,” said refugee advocate Kim Matousek.
“I feel so ignorant. I came here for him, and find out they’ve been locked up nine years. It’s so wrong,” one Djokovic supporter told the Guardian.
The millionaire’s situation draws attention to a damning discrepancy in rights between high profile individuals, and people fleeing their home countries for their lives and safety.
Novak Djokovic, who is neither a migrant or an asylum-seeker, got what human rights organizations have repeatedly asked Governments for migrants and asylum-seekers: that deportations should be suspended until a judicial decision is issued.
— UN Special Rapporteur Migration Felipe González M (@UNSR_Migration) January 6, 2022
Meanwhile, as all eyes turn to Park Hotel, those stuck inside indefinitely anticipate what will happen once Djokovic is inevitably let out in the coming few days. “The media will talk about us more, the whole world probably, which is so sad, just because Djokovic would be here for a few days,” said refugee Mehdi Ali.