Baby Asha: Protests at Brisbane hospital as Australia prepares to deport one-year-old baby

The case of Baby Asha has been the focus of national attention and provoked backlash against Australia's immigration policies

Protests have erupted in Brisbane amid outcry that the Australian government is attempting to deport a one-year-old baby.

The child, known as “Baby Asha”, is the subject of national debate and has prompted fierce criticism of Australia’s immigration policies.

Baby Asha was living with her family in an Australian-run detention centre on the island of Nauru when she was accidentally scalded with boiling water. She was taken to Lady Cliento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane for treatment. 

The hospital has said that it will not agree to discharge Asha to return to the Nauru detention centre for her out-patient care and recovery on the basis that it is not a safe enough environment. In a press release, the hospital said: “This patient will only be discharged once a suitable home environment is identified.”

In response, The Australian Immigration Department has hired guards to be stationed outside the hospital room in which Baby Asha and her family are staying, in a bid to force their return to the detention centre.  

Concerns have grown that forced removal of the family may be imminent. Last night, the hospital tweeted that they would stay “overnight at least.”

Hundreds gathered outside the hospital to show their support for the family and express their disapproval of Australia’s detention laws for immigrants. Outside of Brisbane, activists used the hashtag #LetThemStay to express their support. Campaign banners with the slogan were also unveiled at a football game.

Off-shore detention centres used by Australia have proved controversial and been heavily criticised by advocacy group the Human Rights Watch over allegations of malnutrition, sexual violence, poor hygiene and inhumane conditions.

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