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Curtin University
Centre for Human Rights Education

Insider Resistance: Understanding refugee protest against immigration detention in Australia 1999 – 2005

By Gaylene Galardi 8 November 2012 Publications Research Comments Off on Insider Resistance: Understanding refugee protest against immigration detention in Australia 1999 – 2005

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Congratulations to Centre for Human Rights Education staff member Lucy Fiske who recently completed her PhD research titled Insider Resistance: Understanding refugee protest against immigration detention in Australia 1999 – 2005. Lucy interviewed refugees who had been detained in Australia and who had protested against their detention through a range of methods from writing letters and calling talk back radio through to refusal to comply with directions, hunger strike, lip sewing, escape and riot. The testimony of former detainees revealed the importance of human rights as a mobilising discourse and unsettle dominant explanations of protest as manipulative, criminality or bad behaviour. As well as political objectives, protests often served an important existential function. One participant explained that hunger strike was one way in which detainees could experience their own agency:

“Just to show you are alive you could make a decision to stop receiving anything in your body. That would show that you were alive, because you could make a decision, in a place that you can’t make any decision.”

Another participant echoed this sentiment, saying that all forms of protest were important:

“…of course, the protest helped. Because at least I did something for my rights. Because if I didn’t do those things, nothing different between me and this table. With me? I got a soul. I got a mind. I got thinking. While this table . . . Of course, I wouldn’t stay like that.” (Ismail)

The thesis is available online here.

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