Tuesday, May 06, 2014

What happens in Australia's Pacific gulag?

Beatings and rapes, according to a former Manus Island worker:

Disturbing allegations of regular beatings, racist slurs and unwanted sexual advances by G4S guards on Manus Island have been made by a former Salvation Army worker.

Nicole Judge, a worker on the island, said she was "shocked and distressed" at the conditions on Manus Island when she arrived in September last year to work in a general support role.

In the three months Ms Judge was on the island, she claims in the submission to the Senate inquiry there was sexual activity in the so-called "rape dungeon" in one of the compounds and was told by the guards to carry a "rape whistle" whilse inside the centre. When she told Salvation Army staff that a young Myanmar asylum seeker was walking away from a toilet block in pain, her Salvation Army team leader dismissed her concerns, saying that "because these transferees are Muslim and actively engaging in prayer that any sexual activity would have been consensual". No follow up occurred, she says.

When another asylum seeker was being beaten against a wall and a metal bed frame to the point he was unconscious by two G4S guards, Ms Judge again complained to Salvation Army management, but was told she was "stupid" and "good luck".

The first duty of countries receiving refugees is protection - Australia is supposed to be keeping these people safe. Instead, it has established a top-down culture of lawlessness, effectively licensing their abuse. They treat refugees as unpeople, and their hired thugs have got the message. Meanwhile, politically-enforced secrecy allows them to get away with it. The result is that its gulag is turning into the sort of place that justifies claims of refugee status, that establishes a well-founded fear of persecution. And that is utterly shameful.