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To: Darebin Council

End Torture in Preston - Free the Mantra Refugees!

We the undersigned hereby petition Darebin City Council to act on the inhumane treatment of refugees in the Mantra Hotel.

A terrible crime is being committed right here in our Preston community. There are currently 65 refugees being imprisoned in the Mantra Hotel, part of the Bell City complex. These people were brought there after spending over 6 years on Manus, and have now been locked in Mantra for more than 7 months. They are not allowed to leave their rooms except for 2 hours per day where they have access to the hotel gym. To enforce the total isolation - ‘normal’ patrons of the hotel are not allowed to interact with them during this time. If the refugees want to stand outside in the sun or breathe fresh air, they have to seek approval from Border Force! If this request is granted they don’t get to mix with their neighbours and their dogs in the park across the road, instead they are bussed to the MITA detention centre in Broadmeadows and allowed to walk in circles in what is essentially a prison yard.

One of these men, Farhad Bandesh, has been targeted due to his outspoken advocacy for refugees rights while inside Mantra. For this supposed ‘crime’ he was forcibly moved by guards to the MITA detention centre, where he has been denied access to personal effects, including art supplies. Another Mantra refugee recently attempted suicide, he was taken to hospital, and then subsequently moved to solitary confinement for days at the MITA detention centre, presumably as punishment for bringing negative media coverage on this horrific operation.

Why is this important?

It is totally unacceptable that this systematic abuse of refugees and asylum seekers - innocent people seeking a better life - is happening in our community! We note that the council has offered its services to the men, but have not called for them to be freed. This is totally inadequate. We call on the Darebin council to publicly petition the federal government to free these brave men, along with all the other refugees languishing in detention, and release them into the community with full citizenship rights. Further, we call on the council to explore and deploy all possible financial, regulatory and other measures under its control to pressure the Mantra Hotel to abandon its contract with Border Force.

We invite as many people from the area as possible to join us in a peaceful and socially distant gathering outside the Mantra Hotel on August 7. Further details are available at



2020-12-17 19:21:42 +1100

500 signatures reached

2020-07-18 08:33:31 +1000

Thanks so much for your support so far! We had been planning to launch a door-to-door campaign asking local residents to sign on this week, but the pandemic has delayed that by some time.

I've recorded a couple of video updates about the Mantra situation, where at least one worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Watch them here:

At 2pm today we will be officially launching the Victorian Socialists Council campaign! This is going to be a great event, including a speech by Darebin candidate Rufaro George Kanjere who will be speaking about the fight to free the refugees from Mantra at the launch.

Registration is from $10-50 dollars, we're seeking to raise a $60,000 fighting fund to shake up council elections in October. Having said that, there is a free option if you're absolutely skint! Either way, please register at the following link:

Omar Hassan

2020-07-01 13:56:21 +1000

100 signatures reached

2020-06-26 18:08:03 +1000

50 signatures reached

2020-06-26 14:28:23 +1000

25 signatures reached

2020-06-26 14:13:25 +1000

This campaign will be at the heart of the Victorian Socialists campaign for local council elections in Darebin. If you would like to help door knock for this petition, put up posters in the area or a corflute on your house, assist us online or have any other ideas, please sign up at:

2020-06-26 13:28:19 +1000

10 signatures reached