They can't detain out voices, says refugee rally

July 11, 2011
Protesters outside Broadmeadows detention centre, Melbourne, July 9. Photo: Aron Micallef

More than 300 refugee rights protesters descended on Broadmeadows Detention Centre, in Melbourne’s inner north, on July 9.

The activists present were determined to have their voices heard, and make it known that ALP immigration minister Chris Bowen has backflipped on his promise to have all children out of detention by July.

The centre, which accommodates only asylum seekers under the age of 18, is indeed still open and running. And it doesn’t look like closing its razor wire gates any time soon.

Protesters at the rally called on Bowen to make good on his promise and release all children out of detention.

However, the response from authorities was to have a number of police on foot and on horseback create yet another barrier between the young asylum seekers and the outside world.

The presence of the mainstream media at the rally meant that police were reasonably well behaved. They did not start attacking protesters without provocations, as has been the case at past refugee rights protests at the Broadmeadows Centre and the Maribyrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne’s inner west.

“These people aren’t bad people, they’re people just like you and me and we need to keep campaigning until they’re free,” said Australian Manufacturing Workers Union delegate Tony Mavromatis at the rally.

The federal Labor government is doing everything in its power to make sure that a human face is never put to the refugee issue; let alone the face of an innocent child who has spent long hours at sea desperately trying to escape a war zone.

Aamer Rahman, from the comedy duo Fear Of A Brown Planet, told the rally: “These detention centres are nothing more than prisons where we warehouse people who we consider to be undesirable based on their race, ethnicity or religion.

“So it’s no surprise that the same government who is imposing apartheid on this countries Indigenous people through the horrendous NT intervention, has also come up with this border protection scheme.”

At this point in time, the detention centre in Broadmeadows is still home to more than 80 young refugees and is proof that the work for supporters of refugee rights is far from done.

Not only is the imprisonment of innocent asylum seekers wrong, who have done nothing more than escape deplorable living conditions.

So is the system that created those conditions in the first place. We demand the release of all refugees because seeking asylum is not a crime and refugee rights are human rights.

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