There Without the Grace of God Go I Also
The horror and the tragedy of “Anna” [Cornelia Rau] unreachable in the isolated high security Baxter detention centre, brings to light the realities of the custody of desperate refugees detained in psychologically cruel, hidden places waiting years for the processing of their cases.
While doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, refugee advocates, elder statesmen and kindly grandmothers tried to expose the wrongs of detention they were stonewalled by the new stainless steel cells of Baxter and the sweepings of hard edged bureaucracy.
This outrage calls for the courage to stop vilifying and locking away the difficulties of the face of distress and difference.
It demands that we act with more openness in the handling of the marginalised stranger.
It surely beseeches the responsibly to put the dusty books of the worst of Australian history - Deaths in Custody, The Stolen Generation and Children in Immigration Detention- firmly on the table and open them.Posted by Helen Tait on 09/02/05 at 04:56 AM
Statement from the detainees in Baxter:
“The public inquiry into the happenings of the unlawful detention of Cornelia Rau should not be short-sighted but expanded into an investigation about the inhuman treatment of all those who reside in Baxter detention centre.
“They are all treated by the same psychologists who are unable to distinguish between severely ill mental behaviour and deliberate misbehaviour.
“Severely ill detainees are punished as if it were misbehaviour.
“Baxter detention centre has a specific compound for this where most of Cornelia Rau’s time and [that of] many others is spent, isolated, locked in a room for 18 hours a day and/or constantly harassed in ways hard to understand and always denied like waking people in a disturbing manner and provoking them into matters of self-harm and anger [and] always being blamed.
“Most of the officers working in the compound, Red 1, are new to the centre. It takes a great deal of time for officers to realise that this is not a criminal detention and to treat the detainees as such.
“Also in the Red 1 compound detainees are severely restricted. There is next to nothing in forms of recreation - no access to gym or education facilities. Detainees are expected not only to be alone, but alone and feeling that nobody cares, which is exactly the plight of those [ie those in detention] who are unable to comprehend their situation.
“Not understanding why you are in Baxter detention, with no clue of when it will end, together with feeling alone and that no-one cares, brings even someone with strong mental health to the brink of insanity.
“Without proper psychological help, detainees may never find their way back.
“We here at Baxter detention plea for the pious and compassionate people of this great nation to not only look at the small picture of one Cornelia Rau but at the big picture of the humanitarian catastrophe of all those still suffering in this historical precedent of inhumanity. This is called Australian immigration detention.
“Baxter detainees extend our best wishes for the recovery and future health of Cornelia Rau.”
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
PO Box 364, Narrogin WA 6312Posted by editor on 15/02/05 at 12:53 PM