April 27, 2013
Police watch on at the peaceful protest outside the Yongah Hill Detention Centre in Northam. Picture: Supplied. Source: PerthNow
THERE have been no arrests at a peaceful protest to oppose mandatory detention held at Yongah Hill Detention Centre in Northam, 100km north-east of Perth.
About 50 police, including a mounted unit and the dog squad, watched on as Refugee Rights Action Network members marched to the gates of the $125 million detention centre built to house up to 600 inmates.
About 100 protesters including activists who had travelled from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane also turned out for a candle-lit vigil on Friday night at the centre.
“There are so many police, it’s a bit of overkill,” said network spokeswoman Sarah Ross.
She said an estimated 500 detainees locked up at Northam could see the protest on the hill overlooking the centre.
“They know we’re here and they’ve thanked us for that,” Ms Ross said.
The protest included speeches from former detainees who have now been released into the community.
“We have seen politicians engage in a race to the bottom in refugee policy. With the re-introduction of offshore processing and the situation in Nauru becoming increasingly worse, now is the time to express public outcry at this abhorrent policy,” Ms Ross said.
“Asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island have protested consistently about the woeful conditions and the lack of any indication about when asylum processing will begin.
“We have seen countless times over, that mandatory detention destroys people and we have seen time and time again that a policy of deterrence does not work.”
WA Police said its officers were there to ensure the safety of protesters and of motorists passing the site of the march.