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Human Rights.

Updated on October 30, 2011

I was just on my way to the University Library this evening when I passed a denim shop window which had the following display. I had to take a photo which I did with my IPhone.

(See image above)

Then I felt like blogging about it. You could go in so many directions with an image like this. You could blog about the amazing piece of art. Then again you could talk about lipstick and its relationship women have with it. You could also talk about

when George Bush Snr said in ”Read my lips!

If you notice the middle shot it shows a picture of lips sown-up. This is very moving given that it represents a real protest combined with self-mutilation. A protest on a much smaller scale to that of says a female suicide bomber for instance.

Here in Australia in 2003 we had a Detention Centre in South Australia at Woomera. The place became internationally famous when serious Human rights brutality came to light. Along with the abuse the asylum seekers fell into self destruction. As form of protest the detainees sewed up their lips in an attempt to bring attention which it did to their plight.

At that point in time the Australian Legislation gave the Federal Government the right to hold asylum seekers indefinitely. A High Court Challenge was conducted. The High Courts hands were tied and they ruled in the Governments favour. Some detainees including unaccompanied children were held at Woomera for several years. Now there are increasing calls for an Australian Bill of Rights. Right now public submissions are being taken on the formulation of a bill to be put to the people for assent.

At Easter in 2003 I travelled what 2000+ kilometres along with several hundred others to Woomera to protest at the situation with the detention Camp. The protest gained worldwide attention.

The government came under increasing international pressure to treat the asylum seekers according to the United Nations Charter on the fair treatment of asylum seekers.

Eventually under duress the Federal Liberal Government relented and closed Woomera as a detention facility. It is now in mothballs hopefully permanently.

The government found that it could not give mere lip service to the fact that it was an original signatory to the Charter of Human Rights that was ratified way back in 1948.

Mandatory Detention applies to all people that arrive by boat without a valid Visa and are claiming refugee status.  Until their  claims are processed refugees are held in detention facilities which are like ordinary prisons.

Woomera was built out in the desert, five hours from the nearest city and at the end of a closed road. In summer, temperatures often passed 50 degrees Centigrade.
Last month, Woomera was closed. In the end, 80% of those detained there were found to be genuine refugees and given temporary visas. Many who worked at the centre say they were pressured to stay silent about what they saw and did. It’s only now that the full story is starting to be told.

Phillip Ruddock the Minister for Immigration at the time said this in a press conference.

" We will be briefing people when they come in here on the nature of the facility, the environment in which it's been placed. It's not a holiday camp, nor should it be seen as one."

Images from Woomera

Protest Easter 2003
Protest Easter 2003
barren desert
barren desert
former rocket launch site
former rocket launch site
protest caption
protest caption
proetest 2003
proetest 2003


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