In light of the ongoing struggles across the country against deportations, family separations, and ICE detention centers, we are sharing an interview we did last year about struggles in Australia against refugee prison camps. In 2002, imprisoned refugees inside Australia’s remote Woomera immigration prison coordinated protests with 2500 supporters who had pitched a No Borders camp outside the facility. This cooperation allowed the prisoners to stage a mass breakout. This is the first of two episodes dedicated to this story, from an interview with Aren Aizura, a participant in the solidarity camp.
We were drawn to Aren’s story by the fierceness of the resistance within the detention center, and the solidarity and coordination between supporters on the outside and those inside the walls of Woomera’s detention center. It’s a vital reminder than in an age of escalating American nationalism and xenophobia, fences can be torn down and connections can be forged across walls.
As we air this episode, there are occupations underway at ICE detention facilities or offices in Portland, Tacoma, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Wichita, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Louisville, with more popping up every week. Each of these are spaces for both direct struggle against xenophobic imprisonment and for experimenting with new kinds of community that are not defined by legal status, borders or race. Given the high stakes of this struggle – the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants and refugees including thousands of children, not to mention the hardening precedent of family separations and other kinds of racial targeting – we must learn from previous experiences of occupation and organizing such as Woomera.