Protesters use the Australian Open to call for action against refugee rights abuses

Protest to support refugees in Australia
Afroze Fatima Zaidi

The finals for the 2020 Australian Open took place on 2 February. But those campaigning for refugee rights are concerned with more than tennis. They’re using social media exposure around the international sporting event to shine a spotlight on human rights abuses against refugees in Australia.

The Accor Group, one of the Australian Open corporate sponsors, is complicit in the detention of refugees in Australia. So protesters used #AusOpen and #AO2020 hashtags to call attention to Accor’s role and Australia’s treatment of refugees:


RISE Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees

Refugee rights organisation RISE is leading the campaign. Founded by refugees, former detainees, and survivors of Australia’s detention camps, RISE is calling for the closure of detention centres and international sanctions against Australia:

RISE explained:

Accor own Mantra Bell City Preston where there are currently about 50 detainees being held hostage inside. Prior to being held at Mantra, they have been detained forcibly for over 7 years in Australian-run detention centres.

While you are having a good time, sipping your coffee & alcohol, and watching the Australian Open, our communities have been detained indefinitely inside concentration camps. These camps continue to exist for this long due to the support of economic giants such as the Australian Open, Accor and MSS Security. The international game you are watching is indeed part of the detention industrial complex.

RISE highly condemns the Australian Open for partnering with Accor, who runs Mantra Hotel and have dirty deals with the Government to torture and detain refugees.

Australia’s onshore and offshore refugee detention sites have been operational for many years. Survivors have compared the detention centres to prisons. Meanwhile, RISE members demand an end to detention and forced deportations, as well as accountability and reparations:

Human rights

As The Canary reported, conditions for refugees held on the notorious Manus Island are horrific. Further reports of human rights abuses against refugees in other detention centres are also extremely worrying.

It’s no surprise that refugees and ex-detainees in Australia have had enough. With the world’s attention on Australia because of the tennis open, it’s time those in power took notice and held Australia to account for its many human rights violations.

Featured image via Flickr/John Englart

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