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What have we got to do?

🚨 Content warning: Suicide

If it was not already obvious, the Australian government is not going to change its mind about its cruel and unfair detention of refugees in Kangaroo Point Central Apartments. The government have detained 120 refugees in Brisbane since November 2019 after bringing them from PNG under Medevac legislation. Recently there have been 2 attempted suicides and another rushed to hospital with heart problems. (see report below).

Unionists protesting detention of refugees at Kangaro Point Central Apartments 22 July 2020.

A blockade for the past two months preventing extraction of approximately 120 people held inside has provoked no positive response from the government. The refugees are heavily guarded by three shifts of about 40 SERCO guards backed up by Queensland Police (including the riot squad).

Changes in risk assessments have led to the forceful extraction of about 6 refugees to BITA, a detention centre at Pinkenba close to Brisbane’s international airport.

Politically, both Refugee Solidarity and Back Lives Matter campaigns have convinced many people in Queensland to support the refugees. However a majority are caught in the xenophobic thrall of government propaganda. Those people already have bought the lie that the Chinese government and its people are responsible for Covid 19. A large number of people probably blame Black Lives Matter rallies for the recent second wave of Covid 19 in Victoria (even though this has been demonstrated not to be the cause).

WBT publishes a FB report about the refugee situation from Jonathan Sri, the local councillor for the Gabba ward where the men are held. Finally we post the response and call by Refugee Solidarity who have spent so much time trying to free the men in KP Prison – Ed. 23 July 2020.

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When we look back on dark periods in global history, at stories of cruel governments abusing and oppressing innocent people, we find ourselves asking “how did the citizens of that country allow their government to enact such cruelties?” “Why did people stand by and do nothing while those in power inflicted so much suffering and misery upon fellow human beings?”

Turns out: you’re living through such a period right now. This isn’t happening overseas, or back in some past era of ignorance and bigotry.

It’s happening right now, in our own city, only a few minutes away from where we live.

So what are we going to do about it?

Jonathan Sri,
Councillor for The Gabba

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2558 days inside a cage

Yesterday, at about 2am on the first morning of the eighth year of his imprisonment, his 2557th day living in a cage, a young man tried to end his life.

A few hours later, his best mate tried to follow him.

This happened in your city—in a cramped little room at the makeshift prison at 721 Main Street, Kangaroo Point, where 120 innocent people are locked up. Artists, fathers, barbers, engineers, musicians—human beings. One of them, Jalal, drew this picture.

Seven years ago they fled from misery, torture, and death in their home country.

They’d heard this was a safe place, a good country, a nation that follows international law. But they’d heard wrong. We locked them up and threw away the key, and they’ve been living in a cage ever since.

The two young men who tried to die last night had been tortured for so long that they felt the only way out was suicide.

Blockaders let the ambulances come and go undisturbed as always.

They were both taken to the PA Hospital.

By mid-morning they’d both been discharged.

Think about that: two men who’ve been imprisoned indefinitely for seven years, tortured, airlifted here for medical treatment, denied that treatment, tortured some more and then attempted suicide less than eight hours ago were discharged without adequate care from a psychiatrist, without undergoing a proper risk assessment, without going through the mental health protocols that are basic to all suicide attempts.

This was a disgusting breach of duty of care by the PA Hospital and Queensland Health.

Discharged after less than eight hours—and sent straight to BITA, a high-security prison.

They didn’t want to go to BITA.

They wanted freedom.

But between BITA and the makeshift prison in Kangaroo Point, they chose the KP prison, where they’ve been part of the ongoing resistance that inspired this movement and our 24/7 community blockade.

We beat them to BITA. We blocked the main entrance with cars. People locked on to the steering wheels inside.

They drove our friends around in a van for several hours.

They refused to take them back to Kangaroo Point and we refused to let the van into BITA—yet another purgatory for these people in a long line of them.

In the end they got access through the nearby military base, which has a back entrance to the prison.

Our two friends are now locked up indefinitely in high-security prison for looking for a safe place to live.

It’s been over seven years.

2558 days lived inside a cage.

For those seven years we’ve been writing letters, signing petitions, marching.

But it hasn’t worked.

In the long history of social movements, the real change comes when masses of people who’ve tried everything, who’ve experienced first-hand that the system is rigged, finally see that the only way to force change is to get together en masse and peacefully break the law.

A few days back these people spent the night changing the numbers on the giant banners they hang from their balconies. Another year had passed.

We used to say five years too long. Then we said six years too long. Now we say seven.

We’re not going to say eight.

It’s time to break the law for these people.

Mass Sit-in on the Story Bridge #FreeTheKP120

Refugee Solidarity Brisbane / Meanjin

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