Resistance organised a visit to Villawood detention centre on July 3. Twenty people came to show solidarity with the asylum seekers inside.
We visited four different sections that house families and single people from many countries including Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran and Iraq.
I spoke with a family who live in Villawood with their three young children. The youngest two had never known life outside detention.
They live in their own small house, and once a week a member of the family is allowed to go shopping, with guards, so the family can cook for themselves.
They have been locked up for more than two years, first on Christmas Island and now in Villawood.
Although they have been found to be genuine refugees, ASIO have not given them a security clearance and so they are not allowed to be settled in Australia. But they also can't return home where they will face persecution.
They said they hope another country will accept them, otherwise they may be stuck in detention for many more years.
They have not been told the reason for ASIO’s decision, so it is almost impossible to fight it.
Some of the men in Villawood have wives and children still in their home country.
One man told me he had a young child he had never seen. Inside, most people have access to the internet for an hour a day, they have a TV to share, or they can play games like soccer or use gym equipment, and there is a library.
Several detainees have started drawing and painting. Some of their work was displayed in a recent exhibition in Sydney called Fear + Hope.
Visiting Villawood allows us to talk to the people inside and hear their stories directly. It breaks down the myths that the media feeds the public.
It shows the refugees that there are people in Australia who think mandatory detention is inhumane, and who are organising to abolish it.
There are regular visits to Villawood, if you want to come along please phone Duncan on 0431 586 588.
There will be a rally outside Villawood detention centre on July 24. Meet at Chester Hill station at 11am and join the march to Villawood.