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Dance Journalism contingent at Yongah Detention: dancers defy media ban in centre

Written by: Sam Fox on April 29, 2013
29.04.2013
Activists, advocates and journalists were not permitted to visit with refugees over the three day National Refugee Rights Convergence at Yongah Hill Detention Centre 90km from Perth.
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A contingent of 18 people – dancers, journalists, technicians and curators, made the journey to the centre, interviewing refugees, advocates, activists, and mental health professionals working inside detention.
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A force of approximately 50 police presided over the convergence and prevented any congregation on the centre’s service road. The Dance Journalists were forced to present a 45 minute dance work in a dirt patch on the side of the highway to the detention centre.
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In consultation with the convergence members, the Dance Journalists prepared to defy this restriction at the closing of their performance report. The Dance Journalists led the convergence onto the road and defied the police restrictions in a symbolic act of civil disobedience. Video of the last piece of dancing and subsequent arrests can be found here.
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Three arrests were made including Hydra Poesis director and Sidney Myer Fellow, Sam Fox. Fox and two other dancers continued to perform until being removed from the site.
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Fox commented today, “As dancers we were protesting the illegal, indeterminate policy of mandatory detention of refugess. As journalists we were protesting the media blackout at the centre. Obviously, the suppression of dance and journalism is nothing in comparison to the human rights being denied everyday in Australian detention centres. The abuses of mandatory detention have been overwhelmingly documented by UNHCR and other human rights observers. The suppression of contact with the refugees and media access to the centre only further confirms that the Government has reasons to be hiding the nature of mandatory detention”.
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Dance Journalist Daniella Olea, a Victorian dancer who also defied the police restrictions, said, “”my initial reaction to seeing Yongah Hill was intense horror at stuff a huge, prison-like structure. The fencing was very intimidating. The highlights of the weekend was when we heard the refugees inside chanting Freedom Now!”
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The Dance Journalists are now preparing to release stories gathered over the weekend and more dance reports. For media inquiries contact info@hydrapoesis.net or +61 (0) 401 904 814
 photo: Alex Bainbridge, Dancers: Laura Boynes and Isabella Stone.