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Protesters blockade Brisbane street after night of violence at asylum-seeker hotel

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Protesters have called for a mass gathering at a Brisbane hotel after staging a blockade to prevent the removal of asylum seekers detained there.

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Police are continuing to negotiate with protesters near the Kangaroo Point Central Hotel after dramatic scenes there on Thursday night.

Two people were charged after a night-time operation to prevent the removal of asylum seekers from the hotel and move them to an immigration detention facility.

The man and woman are accused of jumping on the roofs of parked cars during the operation, which saw people use cars to block the hotel’s driveways and prevent any of the 120 detainees from being shifted.

The same hotel has been the scene of previous protests against the detention of asylum seekers.

Some of those at the hotel have been in detention for years and have staged balcony protests about their treatment.

Refugee Solidarity Brisbane/Meanjin supporters filmed their interactions with police on Friday and uploaded it to Facebook, calling for as many people as possible to descend on the hotel.

“We need as many people to get here as soon as possible. This is an urgent call to action,” a woman who posted the video on the group’s Facebook page says.

“Cops have rocked up, they are planning to detain people. They’ve already detained two people. We really need people power right now.

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to hold this fort until, hopefully, for another week’s time.”

Police said they were only aware of the two arrests on Thursday night involving public nuisance charges.

On Thursday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned people not to attend a Free the Refugees protest planned at Kangaroo Point on Saturday because of coronavirus fears.

And NSW authorities have promised a heavy police presence in Sydney on Saturday, after the Supreme Court ordered a protest by the same group should not proceed because of coronavirus risks.

One detainee at the Brisbane hotel told the ABC the protesters intervened physically to prevent his transfer to the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre at Pinkenba on Thursday night.

The man, identified only as Farhad, said he was told to pack his things because he was to be moved.

When he asked why he was being transferred, he said he was told it was because protesters had mentioned his name.

“I prepared and packed everything. These protesters, they jump in and stop the car (from) taking me back,” he said on Friday.

Fahad believes authorities will try to move him again and that he’s being singled out because he’s spoken to the media about the situation he and about 120 others are in.

“It was just me. I do believe the reason is in my case being outspoken and talking to the media, and trying to show what is the reality of this system and how we get treated.”

AAP has sought comment from Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge about operations at the hotel on Thursday night.

-AAP

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