Welcome refugees balloons - Refugee vigil Broadmeadows
About 50 people attended a peaceful vigil in solidarity with refugees held outside the immigration detention centre on Camp Road, Broadmeadows in Melbourne's northern suburbs on Wednesday evening, January 18, 2012.
The protest was called by the Refugee Action Collective of Victoria with less than 2 days notice as two refugees inside are on hunger strike. One Iranian man, aged 33 has been on a hunger strike for 9 days after his second rejection. He has been detained for 16 months. A second Iranian man 32, was given refugee status five months ago and is awaiting security clearance. Both men have not received proper medical assistance.
There was a substantial police presence in front of the main gate, and in the surrounding area including the dog squad.
The protest was peaceful with speakers, music and chants of "Freedom", "Azadi". Hundreds of helium filled balloons raised a banner above the crowd and flew across the gate, before first catching on a fence, and then the balloons getting snagged in a tree.
Candles were lit spelling out "SOS".
One of the Iranian inmates telephoned out and thanked the crowd for their support - knowing we were outside gives encouragement and energy to the refugees detained inside.
2012 marks the 20th anniversary since the introduction of mandatory detention in Australia.