Immigration

‘Like a new person’: Refugee Moz freed after eight years in detention

Refugee Mostafa Azimitabar was freed from Park Hotel on Thursday. Source: Twitter AzimiMoz / Refugee Voices

Refugee, Mostafa Azimitabar, has been released after almost a decade in detention. He told The Feed he feels like a “new person after his release”.

After eight years of detention, including 14 months locked up in Australian hotels, Kurdish-Iranian refugee, Mostafa Azimitabar, has been released into the community.

“For eight years, I was under a lot of pressure, torture, trauma and sadness,” Moz told The Feed, shortly after his release

“Now I am completely free. I feel like I am a new person,” he added.

When Moz stepped out of Park Hotel with his guitar on Thursday, dozens of refugee advocates, who had been waiting outside for 40 minutes, screamed with delight. 

Standing behind a line of police officers, they’d been blasting his song: ‘Love’.

The excitement continued last night when Moz celebrated his new-found freedom with a group of Australian friends, who threw him a small party.

“I danced with them and they welcomed me to Australia,” he said.

He told The Feed he had thousands of messages of support from Australians after his release yesterday.

Along with 51 men that were freed from Melbourne’s Park Hotel this week, Moz has been given a bridging visa while he awaits resettlement. 

Moz will not be able to study on the bridging visa but can now work and move freely within the community.

Of all the things he hopes to do now he's free, Moz said he’s most looking forward to simply going for a walk down the street.

moz
Moz is a refugee who is detained at Park Hotel in Victoria
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“Sometimes we don’t realise how important these simple things are like walking into the street, hugging a friend, visiting family. I haven’t had these things in eight years” Moz said.

“I’m going to walk into the streets and go to a cafe in less than an hour and I am very excited,” he added.

While Moz is celebrating his freedom, 14 asylum seekers remain in Park Hotel and many others are detained in immigration centres in Brisbane, NSW, Western Australia and Victoria.

“I am free now but there are still people, innocent people, inside detention. We are all human but they are still behind the fences and tinted glass,” Moz said.

After attempting to seek asylum, Moz was sent to a detention centre in Manus Island in 2013.

Moz said in the over eight years he was detained, he witnessed riots on Manus Island and was beaten by police in Papua New Guinea in 2017.

He told The Feed he remembers going without food for 24 days and digging for water when Australia withdrew all its services to the initial detention centre in Manus Island in October 2017.

After being transported to Port Moresby, Moz was sent to Melbourne under the Medevac legislation in November 2019.

Refugees from Manus and Nauru Medevac Melbourne
Detained refugees at Mantra Hotel in Melbourne who were evacuated from Manus and Narau under the Medevac legislation.
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Moz spent 13 months in Mantra Hotel before the lease expired in December and he was sent to Park Hotel in Carlton, along with roughly 65 other men.

“I spent 23 hours a day in my room and I was waiting for seeing a specialist for my PTSD or my asthma. They didn't do anything for me,” he said.

The Department of Home Affairs told The Feed it does not comment on individual cases.

A spokesperson clarified a“ final departure bridging visa allows individuals to temporarily reside in the Australian community while they finalise their arrangements to leave Australia.”

“The Australian Government’s policy is clear that no one who attempts illegal maritime travel to Australia will be permanently settled here,” they added.

“They are encouraged to finalise their medical treatment so they can continue on their resettlement pathway to the United States, return to Nauru or PNG or return to their home country.”

Despite being granted a bridging visa and scheduled to resettled under the US-Australian refugee deal at some point, Moz is unsure of what his future holds. 

He is now living with an Australian family, who has opened up their home to him for "as long as he’d like to stay".

Moz’s friend, Fiona, has allowed him to stay at her place in Melbourne. She told The Feed that “our house is his house.”

“I want him to get fit and healthy and restore, so we’re going to nourish him first and then he can be a tourist,” Fiona said.

“We’re getting a 'Melbourne coffee' soon. We’re on about two-and-a-half acres and he saw his first kangaroo up close yesterday,” she said.

Moz has been treated to a celebrity status of sorts since his release. He has been invited by Jimmy Barnes’ wife, Jane, to attend a performance this Saturday.

Moz said he wants to continue making music that shines a light on Australia’s immigration policies, as well as thank those who helped keep his hope alive.

Moz said the countless people who supported him while in detention have kept him “strong like a lion”.

“The reason that I am alive is that I felt, for eight years in detention, I was not alone," he said.

"I always felt that there are many people in Australia who care about refugees, humanity and love."