Thursday, April 07, 2005
Activists from all around Australia traveled for up to 3 days to converge in protest of Australia’s Mandatory Detention Policy for Asylum seekers, at Baxter Refugee detainment centre, north of Port Augusta in the dusty red South Australian desert.at precisely which point any sympathy for the cause was lost.
Roughly 500 Refugee rights activists and community members met for Baxter 05,taking up residency for the weekend on the hill over looking the faccility, whilst Refugee rights activists staged solidarity protesters across the country, at Perth Detention Centre and Maribyrnong Detention Centre, west of Melbourne.
Protesters walked repeatedly to the Baxter centre,3.5 kms away, to make themselves heard to the public and the detainees. What was for all intentions to be a passive protest was met with excessive police force of 400 officers, and resulted in a number of clashes.
Let me guess... If there were no police, there would have been no violence, and it's all the police's fault?
Of course it is...
There were 16 arrests in total for the weekend, comparatively less than the 33 arrests from the previous Baxter convergence in 2003. The arrests were made for charges ranging from trespass, property damage, illegal balloon and kite flying in a ‘military no fly zone’, and indecent exposure.Why might the police be guarding the perimeter then?
Protesters had a final action with a large bunch of balloons attached to a banner depicting the slogan ‘freedom, close Baxter’, and numerous scripts ‘freedom’, with the aim to float the banner over the centre in view of detainees.They were met by a line of police who had been guarding the perimeter for the duration of the weekend and then proceeded to engage in a stand off, similar to that of the previous day.
This subsequent article explains some of the non-violence:
Our action took place on Easter Sunday morning. The five of us crossed a small perimeter fence and then used a nylon rope and small metal hook to pull off some strands of electrified wire running along the top of the main fence. We did this away from the main protest activity and police presence. We then dropped our equipment and stood with our hands in the air, peacefully giving ourselves up for arrest as the police arrived. We remain open and accountable for these actions as we believe that they are morally right.
I can imagine some people believing the trouble all started after the Police hit the protesters back.
Let me ask them something: Where exactly is it written that a protest isn't truly successful unless someone gets hurt and the pepper spray comes out? If it isn't smashing police, it's smashing windows, vandalizing property or causing an extreme public nuisance. And for what?
See here for a reminder of a more intelligent approach.
The problem with protesters like this, is they care more about the action than the cause.