Novak Djokovic Fiasco in Australia Highlights Young Iranian Refugee's 9-year Detention

Novak Djokovic Fiasco in Australia Highlights Young Iranian Refugee’s 9-year Detention


The detention of tennis world number one Novak Djokovic by the Australian government for failing to meet Visa requirements has brought attention to refugees who have been held in the same detention centre for years. One of the refugees who came in a boat from Iran, Mehdi Ali, is trying to use this opportunity to highlight the plight of many others who have been held at Carlton’s Park Hotel in Melbourne. He has been detained there for nine years now. The 24-year-old is using Twitter to talk about his life inside a room and the absurdity of being detained for nine years without committing any crime. During an interview with The Project, when he is asked what his message is for the Serbian tennis star, Mehdi says: “You are experiencing detention for a short period of time. And you know how it is to watch people having life over the window and you don’t have one. Just telling him that speak about us […] how cruel it is to keep human beings in rooms and detentions indefinitely.”

In another tweet, Mehdi wrote: “It’s so sad that so many journalists contacted me yesterday to ask me about Djokovic. I’ve been in a cage for 9 years, I turn 24 today, and all you want to talk to me about is that. Pretending to care by asking me how I am and then straight away asking questions about Djokovic.”

In this tweet, he wrote that he wants to enjoy his youth as a free man. “I don’t need good food, or food free from maggots. What I need is a chance to enjoy my youth as a free man, that was wasted in detention.”

Mehdi says that his only crime was asking Australia for safety. “I’ve served more time than rapists, but I’ve never commited a crime in my whole life. My only “crime” was asking this country for safety. A murderer might probably be out on probation by now…”

Speaking to the Guardian, Mehdi said: “There is a disappointment: everyone wants to ask me about Novak, what the hotel is like for him. But they don’t ask about us: we have been locked up in this place for months, for years. I’ve never seen so many cameras, so much attention. I hope Novak Djokovic learns about our situation here, and I hope he speaks about it.” The report added that Mehdi is a member of the persecuted Ahwazi Arab minority in his homeland Iran. His family urged him to flee, and arranged for his fraught passage, hoping he might find freedom on the other side of the world.

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