On Australia’s front-line against privatised detention centres

Good on those brave souls raising the issue of privatised asylum seekers. In a real democracy, we would be able to visit people technically under our care:

Protesters have knocked over a fence at the Curtin Detention Centre near Derby [in Western Australia], with as many as 40 defying police orders to stay away from the site.

The protesters began a hasty retreat after police called in reinforcements and threatened to arrest anyone who remained at the site.

The busload of protesters arrived at the site about 4.30pm and found the gate barricaded with a 2.5m fence. They were also met by a “significant” police force at the gate, 7km down a driveway from the North West Highway.

Chanting “free the refugees”, “Serco and DIAC, blood on your hands” and waving placards, the group stormed the fence, knocking it over.

Refugees Rights Network spokesman Gerry Georgatos spoke to The West Australian during the clash, saying Serco guards appeared flustered by the arrivals and did not move against them.

However, more State Security officers and WA Police turned up within minutes of the group’s arrival. A car load of Department of Immigration and Citizenship officials arrived at the site during the melee but turned around and took off again when they saw the situation escalating.

Other vehicles approached the scene from within the detention centre.

Mr Georgatos earlier told The West Australian the group was undeterred by 17 arrests at the site yesterday.

He claimed detainees had emailed today begging the visitors for help, saying at least 25 people had collapsed from exhaustion or dehydration since the hunger strike began three days ago.

He claimed several had been treated inside the detention centre’s own medical facilities, though this has not been verified by the Department of Immigration.

“There’s 18 computers in there – obviously, they haven’t shut them down and anyone who is getting on the computers is pummelling us out information,” Mr Georgatos said.

“We don’t have the figures exactly but they’re not what DIAC and Serco are claiming … I’ve actually called them liars today.”

He said an attempt to visit the site earlier today was not allowed after Serco was warned the group was on its way.

He said Derby Police and State Security officers had watched the visitors like hawks since they arrived.

“We have been followed … they have been following us around town all day,” he said. “They’re everywhere.”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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