BY MARY MERKENICH
MELBOURNE — Opponents of the Howard government's policy of mandatory detention of "illegal" refugees are planning to converge on the Baxter detention centre outside Port augusta over the Easter weekend, April 18-21.
Baxter is the immigration department's newest refugee detention centre. It is run by Australasian Correctional Management (ACM), a US-owned private prison company.
Baxter consists of nine compounds, some of which are not currently in use. Fences and electric doors separate the compounds. Detainees are segregated into the compounds, unable to visit each other without the permission of immigration department officials.
The detainees receive $1 an hour for any work they do and are able to use this money to buy cigarettes, soap, shampoo and telephone cards. There have often been complaints about the quality of the food.
Those ACM decides to punish are placed in isolation. The individual cells (one room with a toilet) in the isolation block are fitted with a surveillance camera, which means detainees are watched even when they are using the toilet.
The refugees are stripped of their dignity, isolated from friends, intimidated and watched every single day. They have no opportunities for meaningful activities or hope for their future. Consequently, they become more and more depressed and desperate.
The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) in conjunction with other refugees' rights groups is organising buses to take people to the Easter protests at Baxter. If you would like to attend contact RACV on (03) 9659 3505 or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
From Green Left Weekly, February 12, 2003.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.