Mehdi was 15 years old when he arrived in Australia to seek asylum. But although he was officially recognized as a refugee, he has not been released since. He is now 24 years old in early January. Nine birthdays in captivity.
Every day he himself, now spent in a hotel room designated by the government to hold refugees, is restricted in his freedom under Spartan conditions.
“I try to figure out how to fill my days because I have to survive. If I can sleep, I sleep as much as I can, otherwise I just go out to get a cigarette, watch a movie, read books. But I usually don’t do anything, I lie in my bed Just “.
However, his life at the Carlton Park Hotel took an absurd turn on the eve of Mehdi’s birthday. He got a new neighbor downstairs, the number one tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic. Let’s say you can’t see the defending champion at the Australian Open because of class protocols and because the goalkeeper keeps every floor under strict lockdown – reporting to Watchman.
“I’m a little disappointed. Everyone wants to know about Novak what the hotel is like for them, but they don’t ask about us who’ve been locked up in this place for months or years. I’ve never seen so many cameras, so much interest, because of Novak Djokovic, I’m sure Than he will know and talk about our situation here.”
Mahdi, a 15-year-old boy, arrived in Australia by boat to seek asylum because he was persecuted for belonging to the Ahwazi Arab minority in his native Iran. His family encouraged him to flee and organized his journey in the hope that he would be free on the other side of the world.
The fact that the boy was in need of protection in Australia was quickly recognized, but the refugee status did not bring Mehdi any security or hope for a new start: since then he has been detained in one city or another, now in the famous Melbourne park hotel.
Mehdi watched his teammates, who had arrived with them, were released one by one to start their lives, careers, and families. But many of his fellow prisoners set themselves on fire in desperation, and were beaten, abused and imprisoned without justification. He has never been accused of a crime or violation, yet he still doesn’t know what freedom in Australia could mean. January 3 was his ninth birthday in captivity.
“I am getting old. It is sad to waste my youth, my teenage years. I don’t want to get out of here in my middle age.”
What you feel from the outside world increases your pain. You can see how satisfied young people are by posting on Instagram and living their lives. It is very far from that.
“Birthdays should be her happiest days, but they are the saddest days for me. These are always the hardest while I’m arrested, I think about the wasted years all day long. I need to know the best way to survive. But sometimes I feel that when I connect With others in a similar situation, their frustrations can affect my mental health.” – Says.
Mahdi was given permission to move to the United States under an exchange agreement between the two countries. In a 2016 agreement, America agreed to transfer refugees held in Australia, in exchange for hosting Australian refugees from US-run camps. In contrast, nearly 1,000 refugees have been resettled, but the process is very slow, and the allocation of places also seems cranky to those who wait sometimes for years for a place that may not exist. The Mahdi has lost faith that his day will come one day.
He saw his friends and other refugees who had arrived as children emerging from captivity, out to the airport, and flying away on vacation.
“It’s nice to see people get out of here, but the other side of the coin is, ‘Why not me, why the others?'” I don’t see any particular reason to stay here.”
Al-Mahdi finds it disgraceful for the government to talk about a consistent policy when there are a number of inconsistencies in the arrival of the ships. The government continues to claim that no one can reach Australia by boat to seek asylum, but Al Mahdi knows of the dozens with whom this has happened. The government is also unwilling to accept New Zealand’s offer to transfer refugees to Australia, arguing that this would act as a “pull factor” and encourage people to reach Australia by boat.
Why did the government release thousands of people who arrived by boat but not a handful of refugees? Do they want to set an example for politics? -” He says desperately that Mehdi, who was imprisoned on Nauru and protested the conditions of his detention, was under the guard of a guard.
What would Djokovic’s room look like?
The trans-immigration accommodations in Brisbane were chaotic, while the Park Hotel in Melbourne is the embodiment of loneliness. Mehdi spends every day in the privacy of her hotel room, save for a few precious smoking minutes. Even the small balcony was covered.
Last October and November, the COVID-19 outbreak engulfed hotel refugees and asylum seekers. Of the 46 people held there at the time, 22 were injured. A refugee has been prosecuted in federal court for allowing ambulance staff to enter the hotel, assess the situation and provide treatment to those in need.
Previously, the hotel was used for quarantine, and this facility was the epicenter of a second Covid wave in Victoria, with 90 percent of the state’s Covid cases recorded here having occurred. After the devastating second wave, the hotel was taken out of quarantine, sold and renamed, then designated by the government as an “alternative place of detention” for refugees and asylum seekers, particularly from Nauru and Papua New Guinea. The windows in the hotel rooms are tilted so they don’t open at all.
On December 27, refugees held at the Park Hotel posted pictures of worms that had been found in the food served in their rooms. A week ago, a fire broke out on the top floor of the hotel. When the prisoners fled to the basement hall, the guards prevented them from leaving. Some fainted from anxiety, others had to pee into bottles because there was no toilet. Mehdi’s childhood home in Iran was destroyed by a fire that shocked him, causing him to struggle to breathe in a fire.
The Australian Home Office did not answer questions from The Guardian about Al Mahdi’s indefinite detention. But Mehdi is confident that the presence of Novak Djokovic will probably attract more attention to them, which could help resolve their situation.
“Writer. Twitter specialist. Passionate social media ninja. Lifelong beer buff. Bacon fanatic. Wannabe web scholar. Devoted coffee maven.”