Djokovic Needs To Use His Platform To Advocate For The Park Hotel Refugees He Leaves Behind
"He came to play tennis, and we came for our lives."
Novak Djokovic was released from Melbourne’s Park Hotel on Monday, yet in the near week since he was sent there, the world number one tennis champion has remained tightlipped on the plight of the refugees he shared the building with.
Djokovic leaves behind 32 Medevac detainees, some who have been cooped up inside the detention facility for months on end, failing to receive the treatments they were promised by the federal government.
“I’m really optimistic that he’s going to speak about us, and he’s going to raise our voice because he has a strong voice,” Mehdi Ali told the Middle East Eye. “He experienced what we are experienced what we are experiencing for four days — it was such a short period of time. He experienced how it feels to see people having a life, and you don’t get to have one.”
Mustafa Salah, a 23-year-old Iraqi man, also holds out hope that Djokovic, who he describes as a “powerful man”, will still speak out about the conditions inside Park Hotel, either giving air time in his media interviews or on social media to his multi-million followers online.
“I’ve been detained for nine years,” he told the AAP, speaking of his time in the hotel and offshore detention. “I’ve never seen that much media in all these years.”
“He came to play tennis, and we came for our lives,” he said.
Refugee advocates have filled the glaring silence of Djokovic and his team, trying hard to raise awareness off the back of the internationally-followed debacle.
“They’ve felt forgotten and ignored for so long, and finally people turn up […] not for them,” protestor Gemma Harben told The Guardian. “To see this kind of attention disappear again will be heartbreaking.”
“My message to him is to speak up … and to encourage other people, other countries, his country, and each and every one of the media to … keep speaking up for us,” said Amin Afravi to Al Jazeera, from a seperate detention centre in Brisbane.
Junkee has reached out to Djokovic’s media team for comment.
Photo Credit: Close The Camps/Twitter