Refugee calls for freedom as Mantra refugees moved to new detention facility

Refugee Mostafa Azimitabar is calling on the government to free asylum seekers awaiting resettlement. It comes as over 60 men detained in Melbourne’s Mantra Hotel were transferred to a new detention facility this morning.

Along with over 60 men, Kurdish-Iranian refugee Mostafa Azimitabar was transferred from Mantra Hotel in Preston to Park Hotel in Carlton this morning.

“At around 7.30 in the morning, there were about 50 police cars and vans outside,” he told The Feed.

“They told us to pack our stuff and now we’re at Swanston Street in Carlton,” he said.

Moz said the men were told to hop onto the vans before they were driven 20 minutes away to Park Hotel. 

As news of the men’s relocation reached their supporters, a growing crowd of protesters gathered outside Mantra Hotel. 

The Age reported that several people were arrested in the protest as hundreds of police lined the street in Preston. 

‘I can’t breathe’ in Park Hotel, refugee says

Moz has spent more than eight years in detention -- first on Manus Island in 2013 and later, in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. Last November, he was transferred to Mantra Hotel under the Medevac legislation.

At Mantra Hotel, he said he spent up to 23 hours a day in his room and had no space outside to exercise.

“Mantra was really shit. I couldn’t breathe at all in my room. All the time I was in my room and I have asthma,” Moz said.

“I don’t understand why they put me inside a room for more than a year without any proper medication for my PTSD.”

Moz is a refugee who was detained at Mantra Hotel in Victoria

But according to Moz,  the new hotel isn’t much better. He said at Park Hotel, he cannot open the windows and is sharing a room with another refugee 

“It’s horrible. I cannot breathe,” he said.

“I am just fighting for my freedom.” 

Moz said the windows at Park Hotel are tinted, meaning he can see people outside but they cannot see him. 

“At Mantra, I had a window and I could see people outside smiling at us, waving at us. Here, there is no window,” he said.

“I think this is one of their plans, for us not to be seen by people,” he added.

“They want people in Australia not to see our faces.”

In a statement to The Feed, The Department of Home Affairs confirmed: "detainees from the Mantra Bell City in Melbourne have now been transferred to a new Alternative Place of Detention."

"As with all immigration detention sites, robust COVID-19 measures are in place," the spokesperson added.

On Monday, Home Affairs announced it would be relocating all men detained in the Mantra Hotel, as its lease has expired.

“In line with Australian Government policy, no one under regional processing arrangements will be settled in Australia,” a spokesperson said. 

“Transitory people are encouraged to finalise their medical treatment in Australia so they can continue on their resettlement pathway to the United States, return to Nauru or PNG, or for those who are not refugees, return to their home country.”

The relocation of refugees from Mantra Hotel follows the release of five refugees last week. One of these refugees was Farhad Bandesh, a musician and artist who was released from Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation last Friday.

Less than 72 hours after he was released, Farhad returned to Mantra Hotel to protest Australia’s immigration policies.

“Farhad is my very good friend, he's very funny and amazing,” Moz said.

“I’m very happy when I see his smile and that he's free. When I see that he's happy, it makes me happy, as well.”

Moz said he is infinitely grateful to his supporters, who showed up at Mantra Hotel and Park Hotel on Thursday.

“I want refugees to be able to live with their families and friends because they are not criminals,” he said.

“And my message to people in Australia is that all is not lost, and I really appreciate all their amazing support.”

The Feed has contacted Victoria Police for comment.