BY KAROL FLOREK
SYDNEY — More than 100 people took part in a demonstration organised by the Refugee Action Coalition outside a Liberal Party function at Darling Harbour on February 7.
The dinner was hosted by NSW opposition leader John Brogden to celebrate Philip Ruddock's career as the longest-serving federal immigration minister. Ruddock was guest of honour.
Protesters marched from an anti-war vigil outside Town Hall to the venue, chanting "Bush bombs them, Ruddock locks them up". They demanded freedom for detained asylum seekers and an end to temporary protection visas and deportations.
The protest surprised security staff, who were powerless to prevent the marchers entering the venue. The function was delayed for several hours as protesters occupied the balcony. They argued that there is no reason to celebrate Ruddock's abuse of human rights.
A large number of police eventually broke up the protest, detaining more than 30 people. Some protesters complained of being assaulted, abused and threatened by police during the arrests. When I was snatched by police, I was repeatedly thrown against the ground and told by an officer, "I'll kill you, cunt". All those arrested were released shortly afterwards.
Despite the violence, the protest was a success. The Surry Hills police station commander even admitted some sympathy for the protest, confiding that he is "not the biggest fan of Philip Ruddock".
From Green Left Weekly, February 12, 2003.
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