National

Six arrested in Brisbane refugee protest

By AAP Newswire

Six refugee advocates have been arrested while protesting outside a Brisbane hotel housing asylum seekers.

They were among about 400 on Saturday who marched through streets surrounding the Kangaroo Point Hotel where 120 asylum seekers have been detained for at least a year.

The asylum seekers were transferred from Australian detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru for medical treatment but have not been allowed into the community.

Queensland police confirmed the arrests of six protesters on Saturday but not so any charges.

Protest organiser Matthew Sheppard of Refugee Solidarity Brisbane/Meanjin told AAP a Supreme Court decision on Thursday to ban the protest on Main Street, Kangaroo Point and the Story Bridge had no adverse impact on the demonstration.

He said the asylum seekers locked up in the hotel had been in detention for about eight years in total and should be allowed out.

Demonstrators' immediate concerns are for them to be allowed to exercise outdoors. Since the coronavirus pandemic, there has been much less freedom to move.

Ultimately though, protesters want the asylum seekers released into the Brisbane community by Christmas.

"We could have them in houses in the community overnight," Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul told AAP.

A number of the detainees have family members living in Brisbane, who they can only see from afar when their loved ones stand outside the hotel.

Mr Rintoul said there was a man who had been separated from his wife and child since 2017.

Videos taken of the protest and posted on Facebook show a majority of participants wearing face masks.