Something sick in the heart of Australia

A fence lining the grounds of Villawood. Photo: safecom.org.au

Picture this: you drive past armed guards at the gate; then park your car next to a four-metre-high fence topped with electric wire.

As you enter the building you’re searched, your phone is confiscated, your details are noted, then you pass through metal detectors and are tagged with ultraviolet pens.

Once inside you find small children playing, and their families and friends, who have broken no laws. Surveillance cameras are ever-present and guards patrol the grounds.

On February 27, Resistance activists in Sydney visited refugees in Villawood Detention Centre — there is something profoundly sick about the place.

We met students who fled persecution because their further study was blocked by a government that refuses to recognise their language.

We met torture victims, men with legs blown off and people who had seen family members killed in front of them. They came here because to stay at home meant further persecution, even death.

If our media and politicians weren't so busy trying to vilify these people, if there was genuine discussion about their plight, if their voices were heard, would we stand by and allow men in suits to lock people up without trial?

Would we allow children and pregnant mothers — or anyone for that matter — to be detained indefinitely because they had the audacity to flee war and persecution?

We can't wait for politicians to wake up and we can’t convince the corporate media with the facts — they’re much more interested in whipping up racism to prop up their system of power and profits.

But what we can do is build a movement capable of spreading these messages. We can organise protests, meetings and actions that challenge the corporate media spin. We can help, write for, produce and distribute independent media such as Green Left Weekly to spread the real news.

We can build organisations on campuses, workplaces, schools and communities that are capable of building a socialist alternative. It is only through building this political vehicle that we can truly challenge injustice of capitalism in Australia.

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