Today Marks Nine Years Of Detention For Medevac Refugees In Queensland

"We've been stuck indefinitely for nine years ... You don't want to hear us."

Refguees Brisbane

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It’s been nine years since a number of refugees, currently at Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation after stretches in offshore detention, have been held indefinitely by the Australian Government.

Protests were held in Queensland on Sunday to demand the immediate release of an estimated 35 men still inside the Pinkenba facility. Most were brought to Australia under the now-repealed Medevac laws and never let free.

The solemn anniversary also coincides with the official decision on 19 July, 2013 from the Rudd Government to divert asylum seekers arriving by boat to Manus and Nauru.

“For many of those in BITA, the 19th of July marks the end of their 8th year and the beginning of their 9th year in detention,” protest organisers wrote ahead of the gathering, outraged at the years of “torture, imprisonment, being shifted from concentration camp to concentration camp”.

In April, a number of refugees being held in a Brisbane motel last year awaiting medical treatment, were forcibly transferred to BITA. It came after 25 people were released into the community from Kangaroo Point Hotel a month earlier.

BITA, a low-security detention facility near Brisbane airport, has an official capacity of nearly 100 people and has been operating since 2007.

A 2018 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission into BITA found that the residential compound is “generally of an adequate standard for short periods of detention” but “not an appropriate facility for people who are likely to be in detention for extended periods of time.”

Iranian refugee Loghman Sawari told The Guardian that after years of being shuffled around to both offshore and onshore detention sites, and enduring shocking conditions, that BITA is as equally repressive.

“Freedom is all I want. It is simple: freedom. I only ever wanted to be free,” he said.

A petition is circulating calling on the Morrison Government to show mercy and grant their release.