Refugee activists blockade Wilson Security car park

Issue 

Activists blockaded a Wilson Security car park at Melbourne Convention Centre on July 20, with one activist hanging from a giant tripod for several hours. Police arrested three people, who were released shortly after and will be charged with offences relating to road safety.

In a coordinated event, Sydney refugee activists shut down Wilson Security Circular Quay car park in solidarity with the Melbourne convention blockade and refugees imprisoned on Manus Island and Nauru.

Wilson Parking is part of Wilson Group Holdings, which also includes Wilson Security, Wilson Storage and Wilson Medic One. Wilson Security is subcontracted by Broadspectrum, formerly known as Transfield, to provide security services at Australia's offshore detention centres in Nauru and on Manus Island.

The blockade delayed the start of the Security Exhibition and Conference at the centre. Government representatives and members of ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and Border Force were in attendance.

Refugee activist Shayne Small climbed the tripod blocking the entrance to the convention centre car park. He said: “I am suspended in limbo in solidarity with asylum seekers imprisoned on Nauru and Manus Island, and on-shore. Unlike the people who are held as political prisoners despite having committed no crimes, I will be able to free myself when I choose to come down from the tripod."

Refugee supporters involved in the Boycott Wilson campaign are calling on Australians to boycott Wilson Security car parks over their human rights abuses and torture of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru. The group are demanding the federal government cancel the contracts, close the camps and bring the refugees to Australia.

Boycott Wilson spokesperson Gaye Demanuele said: “Wilson Security is at increasing risk of damaging its brand name and its profits unless it withdraws from the refugee detention industry. Not only is it an immoral way to make money, a number of Wilson's guards have allegedly committed crimes against asylum seekers, including rape and physical assault of children and adults.”

The boycott campaign against those such as Wilson Security who profit off the detention industry appears to be picking up steam with the City of Sydney, Byron Shire Council, Marrickville Council, Fremantle City Council, Bass Coast Shire Council, Shire of Augusta-Margaret River all adopting the #NoBusinessInAbuse pledge. Other councils, including Moreland City and Yarra City are considering the proposal.

Unions are also in the process of adding their strength to the campaign. The Victorian branch of the Australian Nurses and Midwives Federation (ANMF) passed a resolution at their recent delegates meeting calling on health services to not renew parking management and security service contracts with Wilson.

Wilson Security may be running scared already. Apparently Wilson was a no show at the biggest security expo in Australia. Mysteriously, all reference to Wilson Security's involvement in the exhibition and conference has been removed from Wilson Security's website and the Security Exhibition and Conference website, exhibitors list and promotional material. This is despite Wilson Security originally having been advertised as a major sponsor of the event.

Sam Castro, spokesperson for Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance said: “It is unusual that Wilson Security would be missing in action from the biggest security event in the southern hemisphere with contributors including major industry players and their partners: Borderforce, Australian Federal Police, ASIO, the Attorney-General's Department and other various government departments and officials”.

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