Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Australia waterboards refugees

Australia's treatment of refugees in its offshore gulags has already been found to amount to torture by the UN, and there have been occasional reports of specific incidents of torture as well. And now there's another one, with a former gulag worker telling the Senate inquiry into offshore detention that refugees are being waterboarded in the gulag:

A former security guard for Wilson Security on the island made the allegation in a submission to the Senate inquiry into circumstances and conditions at the Australian-run offshore detention centre.

The anonymous guard said he would give evidence to the committee about torture taking place on Nauru, including “waterboarding asylum seekers throughout the facility” though no further detail is given.

The Australians also have a nasty little technique they call "zipping": tying someone to a metal bed, then throwing it in the air - presumably to create injuries consistent with a fall rather than being beaten and drowned.

The Australian government has denied these claims. But they've denied everything bad that happens in the gulag, and their denials have consistently been proven to be false. They are not interested in running a humane detention facility; in fact, inhumanity is the point - the camps are designed to make refugees suffer so they "choose" to go home rather than continue to be tortured. Given what we know, escalation into waterboarding isn't beyond possibility. And if it has happened, those responsible - which includes the policymakers who established an environment of torture and a culture of impunity - need to be held to account. And if Australia won't do it, we should.