'We will be here until the fences come down'

April 20, 2005

Tara Guinness, Sydney

Red balloons filled the streets on April 10 as 150 refugee-rights protesters marched to the Villawood detention centre.

The rally, organised by the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC), was called after police popped balloons and arrested people for flying kites at a protest two weeks earlier at South Australia's Baxter detention centre. It was also called in response to the detention of several children following school raids by the immigration department. The rally also aimed to draw attention to the complete inadequacy of the inquiry into the mistaken detention of Cornelia Rau.

During the protest, detainees gathered behind the razor wire within sight of the protesters, waving, chanting and holding banners and placards. The protesters joined them in chanting "Refugees yes, detention no", and released a mass of red balloons holding up a series of kites that spelt the word "freedom".

Speakers included NSW Teachers Federation multicultural officer Penny Carosi, Dr Michael Dudley, a psychologist specialising in refugee treatment, and RAC activist Anthea Vogl.

Carosi told the rally that the actions of the immigration department were "sadistic". "We will not sit back and watch kids get plucked out of school. We need to turn this around."

"What we want is some dissent, and we will be here until the fences come down", declared Vogl.

From Green Left Weekly, April 20, 2005.
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