Prisoners celebrate life behind bars in Curtin prison in March 2001.
Update : Hopes of copycat escape bids after asylum-seekers’ breakout, Lex Hall and James Madden, The Australian, September 2, 2010: “SCORES of Afghan asylum-seekers spent last night in the Darwin watchhouse after a dramatic mass breakout from the city’s immigration centre, amid hopes the incident could spark copycat escape bids from other detention facilities.” Those involved in the break-out are gonna be transferred to the Curtin prison in Western Australia. The prison was closed in 2002 “following a series of riots and incidents of self-harm by prisoners”, and re-opened in June 2010.
Asylum seekers stage break-out protest (David Coady, ABC): ‘More than 90 Afghan asylum seekers have broken out of the Darwin detention centre and are holding a mass protest on the side of a busy road. The asylum seekers are holding signs which read: “Please help us”, “Show us mercy”, and “We are homeless, defenceless and we seek protection”…’
I support the Darwin Breakout, and so did Sham 69. In 1978, in fact, when they wrote a song in anticipation of its occurence. And do did Extreme Noise Terror when they covered Sham 69’s musical contribution to prison liberation in 1991 (see below).
Incidentally, following the Woomera Breakout of March 29, 2002, police in Melbourne searched Barricade infoshop looking for escapees. They didn’t find any, however, as a kindly wizard from New Zealand had cast an Invisibility Spell upon them.
Refugee advocates say the men are Shia Muslims, a minority group often targeted for violence in Afghanistan because of their beliefs.
The break-out follows disturbances at the center in Darwin Saturday and Sunday involving a group of Indonesians accused of smuggling asylum seekers into Australian waters.
Darwin Detention Centre, the prison from which the 70 or so men briefly escaped, is one of many prisons to be owned and operated by a private company: Serco Australia Pty Ltd. Serco is “a joint venture company formed in 1993 between two global service support companies”, the multi-billion dollar Serco Group (UK) and Sodexo (France). Serco won the much-coveted ‘War Profiteer of the Month’ in February 2009; Sodexo has to be content with a website called Clean Up Sodexo.
Note that the policy of sticking asylum seekers in prison commenced in 1992, under then Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Gerry Hand (Hand has since gone on to enjoy a career in the mining industry). The policy enjoys the support of both Labor and the Coalition (although renegades occasionally make squeaking noises in protest), so it’s unlikely that the prison gates will be thrown open any time soon. Rather, the major parties have been engaged in relentless squabbling over who’s toughest on crime / seeking asylum in Australia — thereby seeking to capitalise upon widespread paranoias — and their kinky behaviour doesn’t look like it’s gonna come to a climax any time soon…