Monday, August 25, 2008

from my friend Rachel Evans .., a fellow staunch human rigths activist.. Villawood Detention Centre is a privatised concentration camp in Syndey's west. Whatever your views on immigration and caging people, the number of people held by immigration is less than one percent of the number of people encouraged to come here on skilled migration programs. They are but token victims of the need for politicians to be elected by voters fearful of foreigners. This may be human animal behaviour, but it is not civilised behaviour.
Anyway, here's Rach:

A reportback on Sunday's 24th August Villawood visit

Norrie, myself , Kelly, Malula, Adam (Metropolitan Community Church), Laurel (RAC Melb) visited Villawood Detention Centre (VDC) and found many of our contacts gone. Many have been released into the community. Some deported.

One detainee told us 2 months ago there was around 250 people in VDC. Two months ago the government granted many of the 2yearly detainees status. Conversely, many of the 3 year detainees were deported. All Indians were deported, most Africans released into the community & many Chinese were released at the beginning of the Olympics. There are now 150 people in VDC.

One month ago, many more were released into the community - but on Bridging E visas - which have no work, social security, Medicare or study rights. However, said our source, many of those Bridging E Visas are being converted to permanent residency - out of 5 of his friends who have got out - 4 now have permanent residency.

But there has been a HUGE turnover of detainees over the last 1.5 month period with a huge amount of new faces. Our source says 900 people have gone through VDC in the last 2 months. These new people are not, like before, being nabbed from the streets/ workplaces by cops and put in detention but they are being stopped at the airport. Immigration is stopping people from poor countries & checking if they have credit cards. If not, and they cant show wads of cash - Immigration have been throwing them in VDC for a night then deporting them. One case we heard of was of two Korean tourists whose friends bought $20,000 in cash to show to Immigration. They were still deported!?! Looks like real tight border control against the poor is Rudd's new anti-refugee intake policy.

501s - of which there were 10 in Stage 1 - were all released last week. There were rumors about Stage One being closed cos there are only 6 people left there. There is only one woman left in VDC, said another detainee , after- a woman who was in VDC for 6 years ( !?gods!?) got released last Friday. This last woman is in isolated conditions in the women's LIMA block.

Of the detainees still remaining - and there are still detainees - they are being asked for HUGE bonds with their Bridging E Visas - $10,000 or $20,000 surety. Terrible. One of the African Pilgrims has been given status - 2 remain awaiting hearings.

So work still to be done. We are trying to get info on if all the people released have been put on Bridging E Visas. The demand for Work Rights is real vital in this period. We are a way away from closing all the camps....There were 2 deportations that happened last week at VDC - apart from Harinda Kavinder - a Vietnamese man. Xmas Island needs to close. Mandatory detention is still in place. Australia has a paltry human rights intake. More work needs to be done. But there are many people who have been granted status in this last period - a result of lots of hard work from all of us!

In struggle & solidarity,
Rachel Evans



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