The Candle of Joy
Throughout the journey of time,
God brought light out of darkness;
brought life to birth
and continues to breathe
light, life, hope and joy
through all creation.
"Bubbas sleeping." Tucked up by the children in church on Sunday.
Not the powerful, not the privileged,
not the famous in the land,
but the no-ones and the needy
were the first to hold God's hand.
Not a well-established family
with an heirloom christening shawl,
but a homeless, wandering couple
parented the Lord of All.
—from Hymn 288 in Together in Song; words by John L. Bell (Wild Goose Publications)
Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your god.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord's hand
double for all her sins.
Lightning in the Brindabellas mid January 2003.
They will turn their faces upward,
or they will look to the earth,
but will see only distress and darkness,
the gloom of anguish;
and they will be thrust into thick darkness.
Isaiah 8:21, 22
The Southern Lights (aurora australis).
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness —
on them light has shined.
Detainees' seventh night in Juliet Block
Wednesday, 10 December 2003
Asylum seekers in Pt Hedland detention centre stopped work and hunger struck today to commemmorate United Nations Human Rights Day in solidarity with those still detained in Juliet Block.
22 asylum seekers remain in Juliet Block tonight, including a 16 year old boy. 19 have been in the isolation block for seven days without charge. They began a hunger strike on Monday.
Reports are that blankets and pillows have not been provided within Juliet Block, food has been inadequate (cornflakes, bread and salad only) and people have been kept in their cell all day with little or no time outside. It is reported that some detainees have been stripped of their clothes and handcuffed, and that some have been beaten, perhaps teargassed, inside their cells.
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) in 2002 issued a report into the treatment of five men detained in Juliet Block. They said in their findings:
'The detention by the Commonwealth of the asylum seekers in 'J' block for a period of approximately six and a half days constituted arbitrary detention within the meaning of article 9(1) of the ICCPR; and the conditions of detention accorded to the asylum seekers while they were held in 'J' block breached their right to be treated with humanity and respect for their inherent dignity under article 10(1) of the ICCPR.' (HREOC Report No. 24)
Juliet Block was then mothballed while undergoing a $3.3M 'upgrade', and is being used now for the first time since 2001. Showers, toilets and sinks are now provided in each cell - with surveillance cameras watching above of course.
Carmen Lawrence said of her visit inside:
"I saw the chilling realisation of their fears in Port Hedland in the form of the refurbished Juliet block, the notorious isolation block used in the past to subdue the dissenters, the angry and distressed. No expense has been spared in transforming Juliet block into a maximum-security prison within a prison. The majority of the thirty plus cells are identical with cells normally reserved in the prison system for the most serious offenders. They are complete with massive, soundproof doors, peepholes, toilets and video surveillance and have been designed to eliminate hanging points." (SMH, 2 September 2003)
DIMIA has made much of their claim that 3 guards were injured during last Thursday's disturbance, intonating that this would justify the holding of 22 people in isolation with for one week without charge in degrading, inadequate and oppressive conditions. One wonders if the officers who hit, kicked, punched, cattle-prodded and teargassed men, women and children on Thursday night will be facing any consequences for their behaviour.
Human Rights Day celebrates the adoption if the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states "All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms".
Like a man released on Monday from Juliet Block said, "You social democratic countries have the human right. What is human right?" …
HREOC report on Juliet Block, 2002 .
Mohammed Saleh died after spending 13 days in Juliet Block in 2001
SBS Insight: Mohammed and Juliet - A Modern Tragedy
Weekend Australian: A Deadly Shock to our System
Parliamentary Human Rights Subcommittee: Aspects of HREOC's annual report 2000-01 concerning immigration detention centres.
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come. (Song of Songs 2.12)