In Woomera, a town on the land of the Kokatha people in remote South Australia, a young man cried through razor-wire fences into the surrounding desert. ‘Who I am, where I am, why I am here? They have put me in jail. My God, I am not lucky. I thought here is humanity.’27
It was Good Friday 2002, and the desert was desperate for liberation. Arriving from across the continent, more than a thousand people convened before the gates of the Woomera immigration detention centre. Inside it, more than a thousand more were imprisoned—men, women and children denied asylum in Australia under the laws of mandatory detention. In the months leading up to Easter, detainees dug graves in the desert earth, lay under a scorching sun, and demanded freedom or death. Others sewed their lips together, organised mass hunger strikes, rioted and set the prison on fire. Others, too, broke out. In June 2000, some 500 detainees escaped into the town, encouraging a further 250 to break out from the Curtin and Port Hedland detention centres. But on Good Friday 2002, it was the visitors who would first break in.
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