Dave/Ross on Wed, 24 Apr 2002 19:16:07 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Dave & Ross in Woomera

The Mail Mystery Unravels

from Dave and Ross, in Woomera
Wednesday, 24 April, 2002

We received a very welcome call last night.  Our main contact inside 
Woomera phoned.  He said that he has, in fact, received the eight 
letters that we have sent him over the past three weeks.  That much 
made us feel bad for having presumed that ACM was destroying our 
letters.  The lawyers here tell us that it would be a criminal 
offence for them to do that.

But then our friend said that he has written four or five letters in 
reply to us.  And herein lies the legal problem.

If you've ever been to another country and had problems going through 
the customs and immigration checks, you will understand something of 
what happens.  People entering another country have no rights as 
citizens of that country, and none of the rights that come after you 
have been passed and legally allowed into that country.  There at the 
airport, you are nonentities.  Without search warrants, they can turn 
your suitcases inside out if they so choose.  They can ask you 
personal and embarrassing questions, and you have no right to remain 
silent.  They can read your mail.  They can force you back onto the 
plane and send you a bill for the return flight, and you must pay it. 
You have no right to a lawyer, no one to turn to for appeal.  Every 
decision is purely arbitrary and unassailable.  It's the nature of 
customs and immigration officials everywhere in the world.  Take away 
a person's rights and it affects the way that officials deal with 

So our contact staying at the friendly Woomera reception centre 
cannot complain if his letters are being thrown out.  They could be 
thrown out because he personally is a marked man.  But they could 
also be thrown out because we are marked men.  Just as the residents 
of the reception centre were punished for the Easter demonstration at 
that time (because they cannot escape, and because they have no 
rights), so too they can be the ones punished for the on-going 
presence of demonstrators like Ross and myself.  After all, Ross and 
I have been banned from visiting them because of our presence at that 
demonstration.  Why not do the same with regard to correspondence by 

We know for sure that some letters are getting out.  We also know 
that some residents are not writing letters.  Our contact says that 
many of the other people that we are writing to have difficulty with 
English, and so they trust him to speak on their behalf.  "So speak," 
I said, "but do it in their name.  Send out letters with other names 
and numbers on them.  Let those people sign them.  We will see if the 
letters are being stopped because your name is at the bottom or if 
they are being stopped because our name is at the top."

Our contact has promised to call again tonight.  His phone card ran 
out last night.  I asked if there was some way we could smuggle money 
in for him to buy more phone cards, but he would have nothing of it. 
"You must not concern yourself about that," he said.  "You have done 
too much already.  I am working and I can buy one card a week with 
what I make."

He was full of concern about my welfare.  "What about your life?" he 
asked.  "You have left your family.  You have left your job.  You are 
trapped out here in this desert.  That is too much for us to ask."

"Trapped?" I asked jokingly.  "You think I'm trapped?  How would you 
like to trade places with me?"  And we both laughed together.

It is hard to believe that the man I was talking to is one of the 
'hard cases", one of the "trouble-makers", so labelled because he has 
been on a number of hunger strikes in protest against his 
confinement.  His polite concern for my own welfare.  His stubborn 
refusal to even consider a gift of money.  His casual conversation 
and many expressions of thanks when it was costing him an hour's work 
for every minute that we spent talking.  These were qualities one 
finds only in the most civilised peoples of the world.

People I would dearly love to have as my neighbours.

Dave & Ross
Phone: 0407-238805

Deposit donations for the Refugee Embassy in Ross Parry's Westpac 
Bank account number 544823, branch number 735065., or post cheques to 
Ross Parry, Post Restante, Woomera 5720.  Thank you for your support

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