Hundreds rally in Melbourne for refugees

Hundreds rally in Melbourne for refugees
Hundreds rally in Melbourne for refugees

Hundreds of people have rallied in Melbourne calling for more rights for refugees and an end to discrimination.

Former refugee footballer Hakeem Al-Araibi has called on the prime minister to help others like him at a rally in Melbourne.

The Bahrain-born 25-year-old has travelled a rocky road, including a stint in a Bangkok jail, to realise his dream of a life in Australia.

“I have a small message to this government, you have given me citizenship here as a refugee but there are dozens of people here. Please Scott Morrison help these people,” Mr Al-Araibi told hundreds of activists in Melbourne on Saturday.

His detention sparked the “Save Hakeem” campaign to return him to Australia and he became the star defender for the semi-professional Pascoe Vale Soccer Club.

“If we’re united together we can change,” he told the crowd.

Other attendees included federal politicians Ged Kearney from Labor and Greens leader Richard Di Natale.

The Labor politician was moved to tears after a man, whom she said was mentally ill, became upset and threw his papers on the ground at the rally claiming he was a refugee.

“Of course his mental health is poor, of course. Anyone put through anything like that would be unwell,” Ms Kearney said.

She also apologised for Labor’s federal election loss and said if they had won, treatment of refugees would be different.

“I’m sorry we didn’t win the election and this is one of my greatest regrets, we would have put an end to indefinite detention,” the Labor MP told the crowd.

“There would be no more horrible temporary protection visas, no more horrible fast-track.”

The Greens leader said the rally was about supporting people stuck in an unfair system who came to Australia fleeing war and persecution.

“It’s about those 30,000 innocent people who have fled persecution who want to contribute to Australia and this government is turning their back on them,” Mr Di Natale said.

He told reporters Peter Dutton’s comments about “anchor babies” was disgraceful.

“That sort of language is designed to divide Australian people, the sort of language we expect of racists and the far right,” he said.

The rally is one of several taking place around the country including at Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

Source: News Australia

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