Christmas Island: Australia's Guantanamo?

May 11, 2007

"Anyone who says this camp is being built for refugees is talking nonsense", union activist and former leader of the 1985 SEQEB dispute Bernie Neville told a Socialist Alliance meeting of around 25 people on May 9. Neville recently returned from working on the construction of the secret new detention centre on Christmas Island, dubbed "Australia's Guantanamo Bay".

"This camp is being built for secret rendition, like Guantanamo. There is already a refugee camp on Christmas Island, with high wire fences and dogs and all the security, which has recently been renovated." There are only a handful of asylum seekers in the existing refugee camp.

The new $360 million facility, comparable to a maximum security prison, is being built far away from existing living areas on the Indian Ocean island, which is now part of the Howard government's immigration exclusion zone.

Neville showed a multimedia presentation revealing the new detention camp's electric fence microwave probes (movement detectors), with camera systems posted in every room. Detainees at the facility will be forced to wear electronic ID tags, which identify them wherever they are in the complex, via locator beacons.

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