Launch of multi-faith campaign to set free refugees

Refugees in the Park Hotel demonstrating during Novak Djokovic's detention

As the Australian Open proceeds into the quarter final stage, on 28 January 2022 religious leaders called on the Prime Minister, the Hon. Scott Morrison, and the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Anthony Albanese to come to a bi-partisan agreement to release the refugees detained in Melbourne’s Park Hotel and in Magyar Barracks, Broadmeadows in Melbourne’s northwest. The campaign follows on from the detention of multiple Australian Open winner, Novak Djokovic in the same facility, highlighting the plight of those detainees, some of whom, like Iranian Refugee Mehdi Ali, have been detained for nine years.

Welcoming the spokesperson for the #setthemfree campaign, the Revd Tim Costello, and more than 30 faith leaders, Dean of Melbourne, Dr Andreas Loewe said: ‘As you walked in, you may have seen our “Let’s Fully Welcome Refugees: banner which has been displayed on our Cathedral since 2013. The colours on that sign may be fading in the Melbourne sun, but the message remains the same. Today we call on the Morrison government to free the refugees detained in our City today and to end the tragedy at the heart of Melbourne.’

Next, Tim Costello launched a short film by award-winning Melbourne film director and producer, Richard Keddie, whose Ride like a Girl was nominated for an Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Award. Narrated by Costello, Keddie’s film highlights the plight of the Melbourne refugees. ‘The refugees have been sacrificial lambs to the politics of border control and immigration’, Costello said at the launch: ‘It is significant that religious leaders are urging the Prime Minister, a man of faith, to meet with the Opposition Leader and together do something that is ultimately good for all Australians – agree on releasing refugees and asylum seekers held in indefinite detention’.

The Chair of the Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria Jasbir Singh, coordinator of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project, Sister Brigid Arthur, and Dean Andreas joined the Revd Tim Costello in calling for the 38 refugees to be set free. ‘Let’s end this grand slam of slamming refugees’, the Dean said, ‘and instead work across political and other divides to release the Melbourne refugees’.

Watch the #setthemfree short film on Set them Free Australia’s Facebook page.