Djokovic Saga Highlights Australia’s ‘Shameful’ Refugee Policies

Voiced by Amazon Polly

Monday’s judgment overturning the cancellation of the visa of Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic highlights Australia’s “shameful” refugee policies, says Amnesty International.

Djokovic was held at a deportation centre for four nights after his arrival in Australia on 5 January to defend his Australian Open title. The defending champion was deprived of training facilities.

But on Monday the court in Melbourne found that Djokovic had complied with all the rules and rejected a decision by Australian immigration authorities that the tennis star didn’t meet the rules for an exemption to an entry.

Djokovic was released from the detention centre housing many other refugees in appalling conditions.

Reacting to the ruling, Amnesty International Australia refugee advisor Dr. Graham Thom said: “Djokovic got a brief glimpse of what refugees have been experiencing for years because of the Australian government’s shameful refugee policies.

“As Mehdi Ali, a 24-year-old refugee from Iran detained in the same Park Hotel, told Amnesty Australia, ‘the air inside my room is a jail, a misery that has been chasing me for almost nine years.’”

Thom said If something positive can come from this saga, it’s that a global spotlight has again shone on this dreadful situation.

This is in violation of international law and which has seen the suffering and death of people whose only “crime” was to seek safety on Australian shores.

“Whether it’s within our borders in the so-called ‘alternative places of detention’ [APODs] or in Nauru, people trapped indefinitely in this brutal system are suffering,” said Thom.

“They can’t work, send their kids to school, play the sports they love, access health care, or plan for their futures. And many suffer trauma and illness every day because of their experiences in detention.

“These people have fled some of the most dangerous places on earth, and they have a right to freedom, safety, and a bright future for themselves and their families.

“They are doctors, musicians, marketing executives, social workers, and athletes. They need our urgent help. Australians can’t stand by any longer while politicians turn a blind eye to people’s suffering.”

There are other options.

Amnesty has worked to get people to Switzerland, to Canada, and to support them to resettle in the US.

New Zealand has offered to take 150 refugees a year, for the past five years.

“We call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to end this unjust system, accept New Zealand’s offer and allow people to finally begin to rebuild their lives,” said Thom.

As for Djokovic, his only worry is whether the Australian authorities will again revoke his visa over an error in his stated timeline before his arrival for the Australian Open, which begins on Monday, 17 January.