Response to @RACVictoria’s “Open Letter to the Refugee Movement” by @xBorderOps

RAC-Vic recently posted an Open Letter on the renewed push by the Greens and GetUp’s ‘No Business In Abuse’ to remove children from detention.

We share RAC-Vic’s concerns at the reductive call for the removal of only children from detention. The call for “children out” is a backward step in the campaign to close the detention industry down. We do not see it as pragmatic but as a recurrent attempt, over the span of more than two decades, by pro-detention groups to obscure their own practical support for and links to the detention industry, and as a means to limit the movements for freedom and against the camps.

Implicit in the call to remove only children from detention is an assumption that children are “innocent” and therefore that adults (without children) deserve to be detained. There is nothing pragmatic about supporting these racist arguments for detention. There is nothing “tactical” about peddling racist assumptions while imagining that this might serve to lessen or be a challenge to that racism. GetUp’s various positions are therefore inexplicable as part of a strategy to close the detention industry down. If this were indeed the aim, the approach is tactically incompetent, conveys no information about the financial and corporate arrangements in the detention industry, and is so contradictory, ambiguous and without legal significance that any detention industry contractor could, for instance, agree to sign GetUp’s ‘pledge’.

Given the successes of the boycott and divestment campaign, we are particularly concerned with GetUp’s attempts to derail that momentum by aligning it with the reductive call for ‘children out’ and a ‘corporate code of conduct.’ This is merely their latest effort at astro-turfing [2]. Here are the previous and ongoing boycott and divestment campaigns:

To be clear, GetUp’s NBIA are in no position to assure companies that divestment and boycott campaigns will cease if those companies engage in the window-dressing that NBIA have offered them.

xBorder has never supported detention [3] – every reason for detention is ultimately an argument for institutionalised racism.

Boycott, Divest, Disrupt. Close the camps, freedom for all.


1. Are Divestment Campaigns Calls For Nicer Cages, Ethical Carnage And Cleaner Coal?

2. GetUp refuses to campaign against offshore detention because it is allied to the ALP.

3. Text of a xborder flyer, 2000:

Gather on August 26th, 2pm, at the Margibyrnong Detention Centre…

Because we can let those who are interned know that they have our support;

Because those who are held behind barbed wire are incarcerated without charge, without trial, indefinitely, without the ability to access the courts to review the merit or length of their imprisonment;

Because racism and xenophobia have underwritten successive governments’ neo-liberal agendas in Australia, through mandatory sentencing in WA and NT, and the mandatory and non-reviewable internment of those who arrive seeking asylum without papers — none of these laws were in place prior to 1992;

Because governments have tried hard to scapegoat immigrants and indigeneous peoples for the misery created by neo-liberal policies — they wager that we will either enjoy the spectacle of their suffering or avert our eyes from their treatment because ‘we’ do not identify with ‘them’;

Because the border control industries such as ACM (Wackenhut Corp) — which runs the Maribyrnong Detention Centre — have been the global beneficiaries of the rush to incarcerate, both here and in the US;

Because our struggles are as global as capital;

Because as the movements of money and goods were deregulated over the last decade, the movements of people were restricted, confined to the global poorhouses that are the ‘third world’, denied the right to flee the impoverishment, environmental devastation and repression wrought by IMF/World Bank-sponsored ‘development’;

Because the constant threat of capital flight, the relocation of industries offshore, and the demand that we accept lower wages and an erosion of working conditions, requires a system f border controls that makes it possible for capital to flee to the global poorhouses where wages are kept low by overt repression and impoverishment;

Because the disparities between the ‘third world’ and the ‘first’ are enforced at the border;

Because no one is illegal;

Because there comes a time when symbolic statements deploring racism and xenophobia might make us feel better but accomplish nothing;

Courage against the internment camps!

Response to @RACVictoria’s “Open Letter to the Refugee Movement” by @xBorderOps


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