AUS: Call to protest at Baxter detention center

Refugee rights activists around Australia invite you to join a national convergence on Baxter Detention Centre from April 18-21 2003.

27.Dec.02 - Baxter is located on Old Whyalla Road approximately 12 kilometres South-West of the Port Augusta, South Australia, township and is some 275 kilometres North-Norwest of Adelaide. As at 9 December, 215 refugees are detained there. This number comprises 146 adult men, 28 adult women and 41 children.

This purpose-built facility is an attempt to redress the "hell-hole" label attached to Australia's detention centres and to demonstrate the government's alleged commitment to "humane detention". During an orchestrated media tour of the centre in July, before it opened, immigration minister Philip Ruddock described the accommodation at Baxter as "three-star".

In fact the Baxter is perhaps the most brutal centre for asylum seekers on mainland Australia. As one man locked up there said: "After the people have called Woomera a hell-hole there is no word for Baxter." Refugees at Baxter are confined in segregated compounds, surrounded by a 9000 volt electric fence and subject to 24-hour camera surveillance. People have been beaten and sent to isolation units for asking to visit their friends, refusing to say 'please' to the guards, and demanding edible food. By all accounts, the facility resembles a maximum security prison. The difference is that there are no convicted criminals inside.

There are constant protests and acts of resistance by the people inside Baxter. They continue to fight for their freedom, and demand visas and release. Meanwhile the federal opposition has capitulated to the government's racist agenda.

The protests Woomera detention centre in September 2001, the national solidarity tour of the Refugee Freedom Bus, and the mass-action at Easter 2002 played a vital part in exposing the terrible truth about the centre and focusing both international and local attention on mandatory detention laws. The gover nment has responded to this condemnation with the downscaling and closure of Woomera in early 2003.

Next Easter, converge on Baxter to show your solidarity with people imprisoned simply for violating Australia's racist immigration laws. Join with the detainees inside Baxter in struggling for their freedom - and for our own. Baxter2003 will be part protest, part liberation camp, and a powerful convergence of those who seek to put an end to Australia's racist border control policies.

The protest will include a myriad of actions and workshops, in solidarity with the detainees across Australia and their struggle for freedom.