Hungerstrikes, naked roof protests: evidence of "Woomera-Baxter" status
"The recent hungerstrikes by Sri Lankans, last week's incident of a Turkish detainee who climbed naked on the roof of
the White Two compound, and today's roof protest of an Iranian man, should be ample evidence of the fact that the
culture inside the Baxter detention centre has now deteriorated to a 'Woomera level' prior to its closure", WA refugee
group Project SafeCom said today.
The Sri Lankans' hungerstrike was aggravated by a cumbersome change in the medication regime, where detainees had to
travel by bus to collect medication - which seemed only motivated by cost-cutting on the part of the detention centre
operator, Global Solutions Management. In addition, it appears that the fact that now GSL staff - rather than medically
qualified staff - distribute medication, is a breach of the medical standards of care that are applicable in Australia.
While this change to medication supply has now apparently been reversed (but not the fact that medication is handed out
by GSL staff), the fact that cutting of costs was placed before the care of clients, evokes memories of ACM, which
embarked on cost-cutting to the detriment of its level of care at Woomera in 2003.
The fact that a Turkish man who undressed and then climbed on the roof of W2 Compound last Friday, can only be explained
as an expression of severe mental distress and in this case, because the man is reportedly a Muslim, a serious
distortion of judgment; it cannot be seen as an act of protest in these circumstances.
The Turkish man believed that he had filled in all visa documentation needed to assist his case while he was living in
the community in Sydney, but he then was visited by DIMIA who said that this was not the case, so he was detained in the
Villawood detention centre, then transferred to Baxter about two weeks ago. The man apparently has been angry and
shocked at this.
'The last straw' for the man, according to refugee advocate Ms Pamela Curr, was when DIMIA presented him with a bill for
The fact that this morning another man, this time an Iranian, climbed on the roof must be explained again as an
expression of a serious state of mental distress.
Detainees have reported that "many riot guards" had amassed last week at the White One and White Two compounds.
Reports have also been received that IDAG, the Immigration Detention Advisory Group, has been called to visit the Baxter
detention centre on coming Friday. This itself indicates that the detention centre operator GSL, or DIMIA, or the
Minister, regards the current situation as extremely serious.
"Baxter is a hell hole like Woomera was, and it should be closed, mothballed, and no asylum seeker or "accidental
overstayer or visa breacher" should live inside it. It is a place for criminals only".