Activists free 35 immigrants in woomera

29.Jun.02 - Refugee Advocates have once again freed asylum seekers from the Woomera Detention Camp where over 140 Asylum Seekers have been on a hunger Strike for three days. Many of them had sewn their lips together in protest at their treatment by the Australian Government.
Around midnight on Friday 28th June 2002, a group of 25 refugee supporters went in to the main compound area of the highly controversial Woomera Detention Centre in South Australia, to show their support for the hunger-striking asylum seekers inside by performing a 'noise' action. Once it was known that people were outside supporting them, children came out to the fence first, followed by men then women. The pain and suffering was clearly evident on their faces and being moved by the plight of these people, the refugee supporters proceeded to try and free as many of these suffering people as possible. It is estimated that between 20 -25 asylum seekers were freed before detention centre staff could stop them. As of 0400am the information received says that there have been no confirmed arrests of either asylum seekers or their liberators although there are now police roadblocks set up around the area.

from the Associated press

Radical asylum seeker supporters used a car to drag down fences at Australia's most notorious detention center, allowing 34 people to escape, the government said Friday.
Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said 15 asylum seekers were involved in a carefully planned mass breakout just before midnight Thursday from the Woomera detention center, a former missile testing base in central Australia. The other 19 took advantage of the confusion and fled into the desert.
"This is a deliberate, organized breakout by people who have been in contact with detainees," Ruddock told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
Ruddock said members of an asylum seeker support group drove a car up to one of the razor-wire topped fences of the camp where they pulled down part of the fence and ferried the asylum seekers away.
Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio said it had received an e-mail from a group calling itself Our Sacred Country, which claimed responsibility for the breakout.
They say they decided to "liberate" the asylum seekers only after seeing the pain and suffering on their faces.
Ruddock said five of the detainees were recaptured by police, and another 10 had been spotted and were expected to be recaptured by police scouring the surrounding area.
About 160 of the 200 Woomera detainees there had been on a four-day hunger strike.
Police have established roadblocks around the area and are using helicopters to search for those still on the run.
The Immigration Department says most of those involved in the break-out have had their applications for asylum rejected.
An Iranian detainee [identified only as Simon] inside the centre has confirmed that many asylum seekers escaped.
Simon says 160 people have been on hunger strike. He says that, like him, they are frustrated.
"I am going to stay here a long time in the detention and continue my suffering in detention," he said. "I don't know I am guilty, I don't know what's my crime."

for more updates on the arrests so far and links to other news stories check out melbourne indymedia.