Statement of the Colombo meeting on "Christianity and Colonization
Twenty five persons mainly from Africa and Asia (joined by some from Australia, Europe and USA) met at Colombo, April 19 to 26, 1998, for a theological reflection from a Christian point of view, on the role of the Churches in the evolution of colonialism and the present form of globalization. This Workshop was co-sponsored by the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT), the Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong, and the Centre for Society and Religion, Colombo. We reflected also on compensation for the damage done by colonialism and restitution of what has been stolen from the colonies. In this search we were inspired by the two meetings of the Afro Asian Forum for Spirituality held at Colombo in 1992 and 1994; by the International Conference "Colonialism to Globalization: Five Centuries After Vasco da Gama" held at New Delhi, February 26, 1998; by the ACISCA, NCCI-URM, Joint Consultation on "Recolonization, Globalization and the Role of the Church" held at Bangalore 16-20 March, 1998; and many others elsewhere. We share here our reflection with our friends and leaders in our Churches and outside, who are committed to a search for a new world order based on justice, equity and sustainability.
The occasion for this meeting was the fifth centenary of the arrival of Vasco da Gama at Calicut, India in May 1498. It symbolizes the beginning of modern colonialism in Asia and Africa. Today it has taken the form of a globalization that keeps impoverishing the masses of Asia, Africa and Latin America. It also marginalizes the poor in the rich countries. Hence our focus was on modern (i.e. post 1498) colonialism and on the present form of unjust globalization which we perceive as neo-colonial. There was consensus that this form of globalization should be rejected and that we should work towards a new world that can bring all the nations and peoples together as equals, in solidarity with one another.
During these days we tried to understand the manner in which religions, particularly Christianity, were interpreted to legitimize colonialism. Though mainly Christianity was used to justify colonialism, in many cases the ethnocentric approach of several Asian and other religions and societies, also supported the process of colonialism either through their failure to resist the invaders or by the local elite collaborating with them. We are also aware that the Churches we belong to, did not always collaborate unquestioningly with the colonialist. As Africans and Asians we are also victims of colonialism. These mitigating circumstances and the role of other religions notwithstanding, because of the legitimizing role Christianity played, as Christians, we acknowledge our share in this injustice. We beg pardon from our people for it. We call on our Churches as well as leaders of other religions that played a direct or indirect legitimizing role, to ask pardon from our people. We call on them to work together to demand compensation and restitution from the colonizers who perpetrated this injustice on our people.
1. The Process of Colonialism
Colonialism has impoverished our people economically, politically and culturally. In some countries land was taken away for plantations and mines. In others, white settlers occupied it against the wishes and interests of our ancestors. We have thus been deprived of some of the means for our sustenance. In countries like India our ancestors were turned into indentured laborers. In much of Africa they were enslaved, deprived of their liberty and of their very humanity and sold as commodities to the profit of the colonizers. The colonialists de-industrialized many of our countries and turned them into suppliers of capital and raw material for the industrial revolution in Europe and into captive markets for its finished products. To achieve it, our skilled workers were sometimes brutally deprived of their skills and impoverished.
The indigenous peoples and women were its worst victims. Their communities were in the forefront of those who preserved biodiversity in which our continents are rich. Colonial forces pirated much of our biodiversity and traditional knowledge and have monopolized it to the benefit of a few. They have caused immense damage to our forests, land and other natural resources. This has caused long term damage to the environment and to the livelihood of the indigenous populations and the rural poor. Women among them are the worst hit. The indigenous peoples also resisted colonialism to a great extent. But both the damage done to them and the role of their liberative movements is rarely recognized in the official histories.
We got some benefits from colonialism, in the form of education which was meant to prepare administrators. Despite its limited objective, it did set some positive processes into motion. But these benefits are far outweighed by the damage done. For example, many present day conflicts like the civil war in Sri Lanka, racial tension in the Americas and conflicts elsewhere, have their origin in the colonial system. Those struggling for a democratic solution to their problems also realize that the colonial heritage prevents the elites of their countries from sharing power with the masses. In addition, racism and sexism that are intrinsic to colonialism continue in many countries in new forms, such as discrimination against migrant workers (being forced to leave their families behind.)
2. Colonialism and Globalization
Globalization is a process that is variously defined and differently understood. We may define it as the transnationalization of capital (with finance capital dangerously separated from the real world and on a self-expanding path of its own), transnationalization of production and standardization and homogenization of consumer tastes. This is a process facilitated and legitimized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The organizing principle of production or the utilization of the country's resources of this process is profit maximization. Globalization is integration with the global exchange system. Creation of exchange-values become all important to the neglect of the creation of use-values. Wants, or to put it bluntly, the greed of a few is more important than the livelihood and needs of the many. Those who have no exchange entitlements (money) are legally excluded from the market. Emerging market is the keyword and not emerging nations or struggling people.
Under such a regime, logically and legally, the growing expansion of wealth and growing social exclusion, economic growth and unemployment, increasing technological progress and immiserisation can go hand in hand. No matter if mother earth and the life-supporting system is abused and adulterated. It is high time to call a halt to this ecological damage and to cease treating Nature as raw material to be exploited for commercial projects. In brief, resource power dominates over human power. Armed with the "market access," "national treatment" and the Most Favored Nation (MFN) clauses, the trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS), the trade-related investment measures (TRIMS), General Agreement on trade-in service (GATS) and several other multilateral Agreements under the WTO, capital has legitimized globalization and privatization. Indeed, this is recolonization par excellence, as conquest is no longer required to establish the sway of capital as under classical colonialism. The strong but painful truth is that huge resources flow from the so-called developing countries to the North (documented in UNDP's Human Development Reports) due to adverse terms of trade, payment of royalties, brain drain, debt servicing and the like.
Even economies like those of East Asia that were presented to us as role models, are feeling the impact of the unequal exchange and speculative capital transfer that results from it. The Bretton Woods structures set up in the colonial age continue to our days. In the name of the free market, they have been given new names and forms such as the World Trade Organization and the Structural Adjustment Program. The greenhouse gas emissions have already interfered with the climate and Nature's own sustainability. But instead of taking measures to reduce the emissions, the countries of the North expect the poor nations of the South to cut down further on their livelihood needs in order to let the citizens of the North enjoy a disproportionately high lifestyle that keeps impinging on the livelihood of the poor.
This situation has adverse consequences on the workers in the formal as well as informal sectors, particularly on the indigenous populations and women. Workers in the South are subjected to gross exploitation in wages and conditions that would not be accepted in the North. Globalization also goes hand in hand with internal colonialism. The elites of the South and North work together to ensure its continuation. The elites of the South reproduce this system by transferring to themselves, more and more resources from the poor, particularly the ecosystem dependent peoples.
The obscene widening of inequalities in wealth and income, the tremendous social disquiet, inequity, poverty and deprivation that continue in the world is an affront to humanity given the tremendous progress science and technology has achieved. The language of development discourse itself must change to one in which people occupy the central stage. A church that does not fight injustice and inequity is not on the side of the oppressed, alienated and the suppressed, and betrays the message of Christ, the greatest anti-imperialist and savior of the poor.
3. The Debt Trap and Impoverishment
Little wonder then, that the situation has not improved after independence in most countries of the South. Because of the unequal terms of exchange, many of countries of the South are today victims of foreign debt. In many countries of Africa foreign debt is higher than their GNP. Given the declining terms of trade and depreciation of currencies, they face a Fisher paradox: of being "once in debt, always in debt." Structural adjustment programs that further impoverish the people, are imposed on them as a step towards debt adjustment. In order to repay their debt, they are forced to cut down their social schemes, and ignore the health, nutrition and education of children. The system is also compelling millions of our people to go as migrant workers to other countries. There they are subjected to harassment, including sexual, with little or no protection from our governments.
A small fraction of what is taken away from us is returned to us as aid, most of it as long or short term loans usually with interest. It only continues the unequal exchange. Many of our people live in conditions not too different from slavery. Millions of our children are deprived of their childhood in order to earn a livelihood in sweatshops and under conditions that can only be described as inhuman. Tens of thousands of our women and children are used as objects of pleasure by tourists. As in the colonial times, so also today, this system is perpetuated through a collaboration between the elites of the North and those of our countries.
We do not need aid. We want justice. We want compensation. We want restoration of what has been robbed from us. The few studies we have done show that what the colonizing countries owe to us is several times more than our foreign debt. In countries like South Africa, foreign debt is in fact blood money borrowed to maintain unjust systems like apartheid. In many other countries it was meant to sustain dictators who ran their countries on behalf of the transnational companies. The victims of these systems are forced to repay them.
Canceling all foreign debt would be one small step in compensation. We repeat that even if it does not have conditionalities attached, it is a small step, inadequate for the immense loss we have suffered during the last few centuries. We have to go far beyond it by changing the unjust system that perpetuates inequalities. The imbalance should be set right and the structures that perpetuate it, rectified.
The time has come for all of us to join together to demand compensation for and restitution of the resources alienated from us. Apart from our land, mineral and natural resources, we demand compensation for the unequal wages our people were paid, for the manner in which our cultures have been degraded and our identity attacked.
4. Politics of Globalization
The economic processes introduced by globalization require tremendous transformation in the political frame-work of all countries and in particular the Third World countries. A central part of this transformation is the displacement of consensus building mechanisms existing in the society. Instead, the governments are being pressurized to adopt quick decision making processes which enable the execution of orders to achieve the aims of globalization. The state is also encouraged to maintain forms of secrecy relating to agreements entered with international financial agencies and the multinational corporations. Such serious decisions as sale of national property and assets, sale of industries, making of dams which result in displacement of a large numbers of people and the policies which lead to massive unemployment and rise of prices are taken with little or no information made available to the people. In fact much misinformation is generated to misguide people on these matters. In effect, the globalization process involves displacement of democracy and encouragement of dictatorships of various kinds.
This process of displacement of democracies and the consultative processes existing in societies necessarily bring about violent confrontations between various sections of the population and the state. The most vulnerable groups are the poor and the young. National security laws are severely enhanced in order to empower the state officers to use violence against the population. In this process even the limited democratic culture established over long years of struggles gets displaced. The rule of law is thus lost to an ideology which insists on the maintenance of order even without law. Human rights in this context are confined only to deal with the gravest forms of violations while a regular state of violence continues within society. Overcoming of this political culture generated by globalization is an essential part of the struggle against it. Thus the struggle against national security laws and the struggle for restoring the rule of law on the basis of international norms and standards set out by the UN human rights instruments and democracy should receive the consideration of all those who are concerned with the struggle against globalization.
The process of globalization displaces the state itself making way for multinational companies to operate unhindered by state authority. The state is pushed to renounce its functions to guarantee equity, social justice and security for the people. The state is strengthened only in its repressive functions so that it could use harsh measures to control people who would oppose the policies arising out of globalization.
A political culture of participation is an essential prerequisite of democracy. The present forms of representation which are merely confined to periodic elections do not guarantee participatory democracy. New forms of participation including rural and local participation need to be developed and given constitutional recognition. Regional autonomy should be strengthened in order to enhance greater participation of people in decision making and achieving greater transparency. Good governance should not merely mean purely formal democracy of a limited nature as it exists now. The administration should be open and conducive to constant consultation with people. The interest of the poor, the minorities and the indigenous people should be especially enhanced by providing them with greater opportunities of actual participation. The participation of women by actual practical means such as making provisions for fifty percent opportunities in all national and local fora such as parliaments, local government bodies, administration and the judiciary should be enhanced. To make the participation real, the persons at the bottom of the social strata should be provided with special opportunities through education and other means to reach levels of leadership.
5. Jubilee, Repentance and Restoration
As Christians, we believe that the Jubilee 2000 and beyond should be taken in the biblical sense of restoration of stolen property, liberation of slaves and cancellation of debt. We urge our Church leaders to take the initiative and proclaim a season of repentance and restitution. We also want them to get the leaders of rich countries, particularly those that call themselves Christian, to recognize their role in the sin of colonialism. A patriarchal theology based on God's kingly power has been used by the conquerors as legitimization of oppression. In moral theology we demand restoration of stolen property from individuals. But we have not taken cognizance of the immense harm done through international piracy and colonialism that have resulted in the impoverishment, massacre and enslavement of millions of our people. We recognize that the name of Jesus, the symbol of freedom, has thus been defiled by those who used Him to perpetrate the sin of colonialism and slavery, and robbed our countries. The institutional Christian Church has been used as a legitimization of colonialism. Jesus the Servant, was presented only as the king with power. The colonizing State used this theology for its own purposes. Salvation that was made dependent on baptism alone, was used by the conquerors as a justification for subjugation of millions of peoples, in the name of saving their souls. The conquests were also presented as crusades i.e. as the victory of Christ the king over other religions.
We acknowledge that we have not been prophetic enough against the social and structural sin of colonialism. We recognize that many individuals and people's movements have played a prophetic role that their faith in Jesus and their commitment to their fellow humans demanded of them. Most of them have paid a heavy price for standing up against this injustice. Though our theology has helped the colonialist, the Churches have also played a positive role. In many cases the missionary working among the most despised populations like the Dalits, was viewed by them as a preacher of equality. Many schools were opened for the elite, in order to help them to join the colonial administration. In that sense the missionary helped the colonized to internalize the colonial ideology. But the Churches also opened many schools for women. The gender based subordination was not questioned. But they laid the foundation for the later awakening of many women to their equality. Similarly, many schools for the new converts from the oppressed classes were opened as a pastoral need. They too may not have directly questioned the unequal society. The caste system continued even among Christians. But these initiatives made it possible for many converts to later question their low status.
While acknowledging these positive points, the negative impact cannot be discounted. We realize that we are a part of the sin of colonialism. We, therefore, request our leaders to ask pardon of our people for the theology that made the legitimization of colonialism possible. Our Churches should demand that the rich countries and companies restore what they have robbed from our countries and pay compensation for it. While inviting our leaders to take such initiatives, we commit ourselves to join them in asking pardon from our people for the sin of colonialism. We will work together towards a world where, never again, will such unjust structures be recreated.
As Pope John Paul II states regrettingly in his November, 1994 apostolic letter: "Tertio Millennio Adveniente" (The Drawing Near of the Third Millennium): "Another painful chapter of history to which the sons and daughters of the Church must return with a spirit of repentance is that of the acquiescence given, specially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of truth. It is true that an accurate historical judgment cannot prescind from careful study of the cultural conditioning of the times, as a result of which many people may have held in good faith that an authentic witness to the truth could include suppressing the opinions others or at least paying no attention to them. Many factors frequently converged to create assumptions which justified intolerance and fostered an emotional climate which only great spirits, truly free and filled with God, were in some way able to break free". (No. 35)
We have reflected on the theology and spirituality of the church that thus justified intolerance and violence towards others during many centuries of the second millennium of Christianity from 1000 C.E. till recent decades. The theological bases of this wrong attitude of the churches have to be examined more deeply in order to correct ourselves and have a more Christ-like attitude towards other faiths, different cultures, women and the rights of all peoples to freedom, human dignity and adequate means for a decent human, physical and cultural life.
The traditional interpretations of the human condition, the fall, salvation and the mission of the church were such as to give the church a sense of justification in claiming a monopoly of the truth and of being the unique, necessary and only means of salvation. Such concepts were utilized by the leaders of Church and of Western peoples to justify their claim to the right to invade, to conquer other peoples and to occupy their territories and destroy their "pagan" religions.
Christian theology understood the mission of the Church as the salvation of the "infidels" by converting them to the church even with the help of the colonial conquerors. Thus for many centuries the theologyăboth dogmatic and moralăspirituality, missiology and Canon Law of the Church were a powerful ideological support for the Western colonial enterprise. The interpretation of Christology, ecclesiology and missiology were such as, in general, to support colonialism.
In the colonized countries, Christian leaders, especially the ordained clergy, were formed according to this mainly Western theology and methodology. They often helped internalize and perpetuate such approaches by the Christians and Churches from the colonial times to today.
For the Christians and Churches to be true and credible disciples of Jesus Christ, we need in our day to rethink profoundly the prevailing theologies with their diversities of expression, spirituality and approach towards human rights. The message of Jesus presents God as love, creation as good, and earth and its resources as meant for all humans. Salvation is in the right relationships that bring about love, justice, freedom and equal human dignity of all. "Thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven." May all have their daily bread and may there be genuine forgiveness of one another as Jesus taught us to pray.
In the world of growing unjust globalization we must carefully rethink our theology, our understanding of mission and our relationship with all others in trying to realize this objective. Unless we do so urgently, effectively and globally, we Christians may find ourselves once again substantially on the side of oppressors and not of the justice that God in Jesus promised and wants.
The Jubilee is the time for us to proclaim a season of repentance and restoration and of healing a sinful world. Preparations for the Jubilee are in full swing during this year when we mark five centuries from the beginning of modern colonialism in our continents. A jubilee makes little sense to us if the state of sin, of injustice and structural poverty that are intrinsic to our colonial societies, is not recognized and efforts made to change the system. The broken humanity of our peoples has to be restored. The immense damage done to our natural resources and livelihoods should be halted. The present distribution of land among States, that is mainly based on the colonial past has to be remedied. People impoverished by colonialism should be provided opportunities to migrate in a planned manner to lands that can receive more peoples. We urge our leaders to renew the call of Pius XII that peoples without land have a right to land without people.
The Churches should play a prophetic role in proclaiming this jubilee, in acknowledging our share in this sin and in demanding that the rich countries of Europe and North America restore to Africa, Asia and the indigenous peoples of Latin America and Australia, what they have stolen from them. The Churches also have a duty to compensate our peoples for our share in the degradation of our cultures and for our negative attitude towards other religions.
Asking pardon as a first step, would be keeping in with the tradition of our Churches. The history of the last few decades shows that recent Roman Pontiffs have asked pardon on at least 95 different occasions for sins such as injustice to women, slavery, Jews etc. The World Council of Churches has taken similar initiatives on several occasions. Recognizing colonialism as a sin and asking pardon for our share in it will be one more important step in proclaiming the repentance and freedom for which Jesus came into this world.
6. The Task Ahead
a) Our main task is to work for an end to the present unjust world order. We commit ourselves to join all victims of oppression in the North and in the South in achieving this goal. We will coordinate our action with people's movements and existing networks that can give some hope of a new world to people who experience oppression and injustice.
b) We will make serious studies of the losses that various countries in our continents have suffered. After estimating the loss suffered, we shall present the conclusions to our governments and to various international organizations and human rights groups in the South and the North, in order to mobilize public opinion in favor of restitution.
c) Our focus during the next two years will be the cancellation of the foreign debt of colonized peoples as the first step in restoration. But we keep in our mind the long term objective of changing the structures that perpetuate this injustice.
d) We also demand an end to uncontrolled speculation of finance capital and a code of conduct for the multinationals.
e) We support the principle of the Tobin tax i.e. the suggestion that a tax of 0.05% be imposed on all transnational financial speculation. Its extent today is around USD 600 trillion. This tax will thus produce around USD 3 trillion which is around sixty percent of the GNP of all the countries of the South. This amount can be used to write off foreign debt, to compensate former colonies for the loss they have suffered and for investments, particularly in the social field in these countries. Such a tax may also reduce the speculative transfer of capital that has led to crises such as the one of East Asia.
7. Challenges to the Churches
All our Churches have to play a role in the arena specific to them. Today, the victims of colonialism are carrying the cross of oppression, impoverishment and misery. The cross of Jesus was a sign of hope. In His life, death and resurrection He proclaimed a new and abundant life. For this hope of a new life to become real to the victims of colonialism, all the Churches have to come together to play their prophetic role and call on the world to repent for its state of sin. They may join all people of good will in creating public opinion against this sinful world. In the name of Jesus who came to make all things new they may preach that we work for a new world based on justice. We want to join our leaders and other individuals and organizations striving to bring hope to those who are deprived of their basic human rights and are moving towards despair.
In this struggle we are inspired by Jesus who was sent to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the prisoners and captives and giving sight to the blind. As a step towards a new world, in cooperation with the people and those involved in people's struggles and adherents of different religions:
a) We shall try to develop a theology and spirituality of liberation that can bring a sense of hope and empowerment to our people who are carrying the cross of suffering, impoverishment and oppression. While we get our inspiration from Jesus who came to make the world new, we shall join others who get inspiration from the liberative elements of their own religions, especially the popular religions of the oppressed. We urge that the educational and formation programs in the Church be updated to meet these needs.
b) In this effort we shall demand from our Churches that the solidarity and the universal character that are integral to them, be made real in the relations between peoples and nations. We may have to take a new look at many of our investments, to ensure that our money is not invested in industries that go against the people or support militarization or in any way sustain sexism or racism or destroy the environment that is the livelihood of the indigenous peoples.
c) We shall also identify the networks that are already active in the work of struggling for a new world based on justice and equality of peoples and nations. We intend to join all other people's groups and movements in this struggle. One priority will be the oppressed groups that are trying to liberate themselves from their present state of oppression and immiserisation. Another will be to prevent further human and ecological degradation. We wish to share with kindred groups our reflections on some alternatives to this present form of unjust globalization . [cf. Appendix to Statement.]
d) We will be forwarding this Statement with a covering letter to:
i) The Synod of Bishops of Asia now meeting in Rome
ii) The General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, 1998
iii) The Anglican Church Lambeth Conference, 1998
iv) The Lutheran World Federation
v) The World Methodist Conference
vi) The Conference of International Catholic Organizations
vii) Universities and Research Centers
viii) Christian Seminaries and Training Institutes
e) We initiate two Signature Campaigns:
i) For Compensation to Colonized Peoples - to be sent to the UN and Governments of the world
ii) For the Rights of Migrant Workers - to be sent to the Governments and other relevant bodies
Professor Ramathate Dolamo, South Africa
Professor Jude Julius Ongonga, Nairobi, Kenya
Ms. Lilian Chirairo, Harare, Zimbabwe
Fr. Brian MacGarry SJ, Harare, Zimbabwe
Fr. Joseph Komakoma, Lusaka, Zambia
Professor M.A. Oommen, New Delhi, India
Dr. Felix N. Sugirtharaj, Chennai, India
Fr. (Dr.) Walter Fernandez SJ, New Delhi, India
Fr. Emmanuel Asi, Pakistan
Ms. Afshan Irum, Pakistan
Basil Fernando, Hong Kong
Sanjeewa Liyanage, Hong Kong
Rev. Djoko Priyatno, Indonesia
Rev. Elizabeth S. Tapia, Philippines
Fr. Tissa Balasuriya OMI, Sri Lanka
Fr. Oswald B. Firth OMI, Sri Lanka
Fr. Anslem Silva OMI, Sri Lanka
Sr. Marlene Perera FMM
Ms. Kanthi Shirani de Silva, Sri Lanka
Dr. Shirley Lal Wijesinghe, Sri Lanka
Aloysius Devasagayam, Sri Lanka
Stefan Gigacz, Belgium
Don Wedd, Chicago, USA
Gerd Wild, Eschborn, Germany
AND KERRY TAYLOR
Friday 9 June 2000
More than 200 protesting illegal immigrants from the Middle East remained camped out in the town of Woomera last night after a mass breakout from the nearby detention centre in South Australia's outback.
The breakout, the biggest in Australia's history, prompted an immediate Federal Government review of security at migrant detention centres around the country.
About 500 detainees, most from Iraq and Afghanistan, broke out of the Woomera camp in three waves starting in the early hours of yesterday after a fence was pushed over during a riot.
Hundreds ran through the streets of Woomera before occupying the town centre, where they demanded better conditions and the promise of eventual freedom.
Late last night, about 250 refugees still refusing to return to the camp were told by prison management that Australian people were frightened by what had happened and that they would lose public sympathy.
Victor Urajadko, a senior manager with Australasian Correctional Services, told one of the English-speaking Muslim leaders that the detainees had to return to camp if they were to negotiate. "If you make the wrong decision, there are consequences in what the Australian people think of you," he said.
The first assistant secretary to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Peter Vardos, arrived in Woomera last night and offered to meet the refugees on the condition that they return.
But the detainees said they would go back to the detention centre only if the media accompanied them.
The group leader, Mansour, who left his family behind in Syria, said he had been told they would lose any claim to refugee status as a punishment for the breakout. They were seeking guarantees this would not happen, and the right to negotiate through issues relating mainly to the treatment of people inside the camp and the length of time they were being kept there.
The breakout came after three days of protests inside the camp, where detainees had been demanding access to human rights representatives and the right to talk to journalists.
The largest group broke out of the camp at Woomera West, two kilometres from the town, about 1am, running into the town past a service station on the road to Port Augusta.
Additional police and security staff were sent to Woomera yesterday to deal with the escape. Police flew in from Roxby Downs, Port Augusta and Whyalla and three busloads were sent from Adelaide, but they appeared to be under orders to allow the protest to run its course.
Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock later announced a review of security at detention centres around the country. He said the events were unacceptable, and he would seek advice on how to better detain illegal immigrants.
Opposition immigration spokesman Con Sciacca said the detainees had been living in a "pressure cooker" environment, frustrated by long delays in processing their applications. While not supporting the breakout, Mr Sciacca said it was a sign that something was wrong at the centre.