Fences come down - will borders be next?

report form the bordercamp in woomera [friday night]

29.Mar.02 - Events at the Woomera2002 Festival of Freedoms moved quickly as protesters dismantled fences and made a dash for freedom. Police surround Woomera2002 campsite and institute movement checks.

At 6pm, detainees began protesting inside the Detention Centre. They were quickly joined by around 1,000 people who bypassed the police roadblock, walked almost a kilometre toward the back of the Detention Centre, and dismantled the outer perimeter fence to join with them.

Protesters behind the wire had asked that protesters outside join them in some chants, some of which included: 'ACM, immigration mafia' and 'Freedom'. Protesters ran to meet those behind the inner fence with cheers, messages of support and chants for freedom. At the fence, detainees spoke with people on the other side of the fence, and some made a courageous attempt to climb the fence and join the 1,000-strong crowd on the other side.

A hole was cut into the inner razor-wire fence that separated protesters, amd several detainees escaped. Estimates vary, but two or three of the escapees were recaptured by the police and immediately taken back the Detention Centre. Alleging that the Woomera2002 campsite are harbouring escapees, police have established a roadblock on the road leading out of the Woomera2002 campsite, are doing identity checks on all people leaving the campsite, and have set up a cordon all around the campsite to ensure that no one gets in or out without being checked by police.

Conflicts have arisen between the Australian Protective Services (a Commonwealth security force) and the South Australian Police over who has the jurisdiction to make arrests of protesters at Woomera2002.

The South Australian Premier reached for that old favourite, the "rent-a-crowd" figure with which to lay the groundwork for police violently moving against the Woomera2002 campsite. Protesters have at each stage insisted that police not use violence against those on either side of the wire, but as yet there have been no assurances regarding this. Latebreaking news: Detainees inside Woomera refused to let ACM conduct a headcount in order to ascertain just how many and which detainees had made it out of the Detention Centre. ACM has responded with tear gas and beatings.