Council, police muzzle truth about refugees

Issue 

BY PAUL BENEDEK
& TAMARA PEARSON

SYDNEY — Five Parramatta City Council officers, accompanied by two police, on June 15 ordered a display, which featured graphic photographs of the conditions inside one of Australia's concentration camps for refugees, to be removed from the Parramatta Mall.

The display was part of a Free the Refugees Campaign (FRC) stall. The photos had to be smuggled out of the Curtin detention centre in Western Australia because the Department of Immigration (DIMA) forbids inmates to have cameras or film in the centres. The photos also depicted injuries inflicted on refugees by Australasian Correctional Management (ACM) guards.

"These photos are a crucial way of breaking through immigration minister Philip Ruddock's lies. They show the true conditions faced by the detainees", FRC's Arsalan Nazarian told Green Left Weekly. "Ruddock has claimed that conditions in the [Curtin] camp are better than many people's homes. These photos show that they are worse than many prisons."

Nazarian said that many people, who had not given the refugee issue much thought, were struck by the graphic images. Before the council and police ordered the stall closed, supposedly because it did not have council "permission", a constant crowd of 20 to 30 people were viewing the photos.

On June 17, a FRC forum in Parramatta attracted 70 people. "We are glad to know there are people like you because we realise we are not alone", Hussein, a refugee who had spent time in Woomera detention camp told the meeting.

Ten refugees who have spent time in detention attended the forum and are working with the FRC to organise a rally in Canberra. A case worker for refugees in Australia from Amnesty International also spoke at the forum.

To contact the FRC, phone Arsalan on 0419 252 923 or Paul on 0410 629 088, or visit <campaign>.

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