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(en) Australia, Baxter Convergence Camp*

From "dr.woooo" <dr.woooo@nomasters.org>
Date Mon, 21 Apr 2003 10:48:50 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

> Baxter Convergence Camp
> by Le Boeuf nomadologist@lycos.com
Despite trials and challenges, the protest camp at the Baxter 2003 action and
festival 'Rock on Against Racism', the protest seems to have been a successful
action to raise awareness of the plight of Baxter detainees.
Baxter Convergence Camp

Sunday 20 April 2003 (Easter Sunday)

At the Baxter 2003 convergence, members of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy from
Canberra have been keeping a sacred fire and meeting place in solidarity with
the diverse affinity groups of activists there. Reporting from a tent near the
sacred fire at the Baxter 2003 Convergence this morning, spokesman Grant van
Riessen reported that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy campsite at Baxter had been
pitched after negotiation with local indigenous elders. The sacred fire brought
from Canberra was providing a meeting place for activists from around
Australia, and apparently providing a much needed focus amid the chaos of the
protests in the remote desert of South Australia.

The organisation Food Not Bombs had been providing much appreciated meals for
the hungry activists throughout the festival at Baxter, as a collection of
tents mushroomed. "I am looking out over a hundred to a hundred and fifty tens -
lots of little domes" van Riessen reported this morning before leaving the
camp for an action at the Detention Facility.

The Baxter2003 festival camp was set up about 3km from the perimeter of the
Baxter "IRPC", 275km from Adelaide. Initially, a camp had begun to be erected
close to the perimeter of the Detention Center, but police had changed their
minds about this after a short time and issued orders to leave. This had led to
police advancing on horses, callously trampling protestors' camps and
belongings, according to witness Allan Nield.

Although legal observers tents were originally planned, none was established
subsequent to the destruction of the initial preferred campsite. This morning,
there was still no medical tent, but according to reports, a first aid tent
developed during the day, treating a couple of injuries. A geodesic dome frame
had not been erected at the camp as planned, probably because of the distance
and invisibility of the protesters campsite from the Detention Facility. One
undercover policeman had been ejected from the protest camp earlier today, and
the incident had created some division and suspicion amongst the camp

Rising above the struggles, a kite was flown, for a brief time symbolising
freedom. But the person responsible was soon arrested, prompting comparison of
Australian police with the Taliban regime's outlawing of kites.

As many Australians and families were celebrating the long weekend and Easter,
the media tent and vehicles must have been working overtime, with activists at
laptop computers preparing reports and sending news to broadcasts and to the
Internet and via transports to Port Augusta. Pimp (phone Indy media press)
reports had been uploaded to Indy media providing live audio reports from
Baxter over the last 48 hours. These reports had been channeled through
mainstream and alternative media as well as Indymedia through agencies such as
Project SafeCom, and hitting about 250 Internet news sites worldwide by the end
of the day.

Two trucks provided an impressive stage for the headline music event Rock
Against Racism. The Rock Against Racism concert went off successfully on
Saturday night, with local and Melbourne acts playing to an appreciative
audience of tired protesters. The concert served to bring together the diverse
visitors with the local indigenous people. During the concert, some of the
activists approached the detention centre but were caught in the spotlight of a
Police helicopter. Two Perth activists were arrested for trespassing on
Commonwealth land and were given the 'snatch and grab' treatment. They have now
been released on bail. In all, there have been a couple of dozen arrests over
the weekend festival, for offences ranging from kite flying, to loitering, to

Flares had been fired off and activists reported that these had been
acknowledged by the detainees inside the fortressed detention facility. While
stating what they thought justified in the lockdown of the detention facility
over the Easter weekend and the need for the 100 - 300 police in full riot
gear, government statements also claimed that everything was normal inside the
besieged detention facility. Independent reports suggested detainees were
beaten and isolated for chanting back to protesters outside the centre.

About 300 people were at the detention centre fence around midday in one of the
final protest actions of the festival, before some moved to Port Augusta
Prison, while other returning to their diverse homes. But during the afternoon,
police and protesters were involved in another tense stand off. When their
helicopter mistook a camera tripod for a weapon, police descended on the
protest camp with automatic weapons, terrorising the startled protesters,

Later today, as the protestors departed from Baxter, fifty to a hundred helium
balloons were released. Secret reports from inside the centre soon followed,
confirming that detainees had got the message.

Sun 20 April midnight - 01.15 WST

*[Ed. Note:
The Bxter project is part of the direct action of the
anti authoritarian "no border - no one is illegale"
general offensive against the detention of "illegal
immigrants" to Australia.]

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