Thoughts on the hunger strike at the Broadmeadows gulag

Background info: Hunger strike at the Broadmeadows gulag

So I just spent a weekend camped outside a detention

On more than one occasion during the weekend a supporter asked if those of us outside had any message we wanted to pass on to the hunger strikers. I was lost for words. “Stay strong”, “We’re with you” and other such sentiments all seemed grossly inadequate.

The refugee movement is a shadow of it’s former self.

As one person put it to me over the weekend, the outrage of 2001, “How could this happen here?!” has been replaced with resignation, “oh well, this happens here”.

We must clearly, unequivocally and without hesitation support every act of resistance that comes from within the camps.

The most significant, effective and important resistance to Australia’s barbaric treatment of refugees has always come from refugees, within the detention centres.

Riots, hunger strikes, burning buildings, and sewn lips demand a response, not just from the state but also from anyone with an ounce of compassion. Resistance inside the detention centres is what spurs and demands a response from supporters outside, and in turn solidarity from the outside gives confidence for stronger and repeated acts of defiance inside.

If the refugee movement in Australia is to be rebuilt, active and visible support for resistance from within detention centres must be maintained.

Perhaps there is one thing I’d liked to have passed on to the hunger strikers, “Thank you”.


  1. This centre in Hampshire has a long prior history, first as a Naval barracks and then as a Young Offender Institution. It opened as an immigration detention centre in June 1989 and is run by HM Prison Service. The centre has 160 beds for male detainees. Haslar has, at times, been the scene of riots, hunger strikes and other protests. The centre has been criticised on a number of occasions by the Prisons inspectorate. Campsfield House detention centre is located near Oxford and is a long-term centre with space for 216 male detainees. The centre is privately run and was opened in 1993. Campsfield has been the site of a number of serious riots and disturbances. The centre is amongst those from which there have been several escapes – including an outbreak of 26 detainees in 2007. Tinsley House opened in 1993 and is a privately run centre near Gatwick Airport. It has space for 216 men, 5 women and 4 families. In a 2009 report, the Chief Inspector of Prisons said that the conditions at Tinsley House were no longer suitable for women and children.

  2. The centre is privately run and was opened in 1993. Campsfield has been the site of a number of serious riots and disturbances.


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