Six Charged After Banned Protest Against Asylum Seeker Treatment Goes Ahead

August 15, 2020 Updated: August 15, 2020

BRISBANE—Six refugee advocates have been charged with nuisance offences following a protest outside a Brisbane hotel housing asylum seekers.

They were among about 400 demonstrators who on Aug. 15 marched through streets surrounding the Kangaroo Point Hotel where 120 asylum seekers have been housed for at least a year.

The asylum seekers were transferred from Australian detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru for medical treatment and have not been allowed into the community.

Four men and two women have been accused of 12 offences including disobeying a direction, public nuisance, and disrupting traffic.

Two reportedly glued their hands to the roadway. The group will appear in court at a later date.

Protest organiser Matthew Sheppard of Refugee Solidarity Brisbane/Meanjin told AAP that a Supreme Court decision on Aug. 13 to ban the protest due to COVID-19 transmission risk on Main Street, Kangaroo Point, and the Story Bridge did not stop the demonstration.

He said that asylum seekers, who in his view have been locked up in the hotel after being in detention for about eight years in total, should be allowed out while their cases are being assessed for refugee status.

Demonstrators’ immediate concerns are for them to be allowed to exercise outdoors. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the detainees have had much less freedom to move.

Ultimately though, protesters want the asylum seekers released into the Brisbane community by December.

“We could have them in houses in the community overnight,” Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul told AAP.

A number of the detainees have family members living in Brisbane, who they can only see from afar as they stand outside the hotel.

By Andi Yu