Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The calculated cruelty of Australia’s offshore detention camps


This should surprise no-one: Australia’s offshore detention centres are intended to discourage applications for Australian refugee status.

“The conditions of detention at the Manus Island Offshore Processing Centre appeared to be calculated to break the spirit of those detained in the Manus Island Offshore Procession Centre.” So says the affidavit of a Medical Doctor formerly employed there, who “was considerably distressed at what I saw, and I recall thinking that this must be similar to a concentration camp.” (Those opposed to recognising the rights of refugees should realise this is precisely what they are supporting).

The detainees at the Manus Island OPC are detained behind razor wire fences, in conditions below the standard of Australian maximum-security prison… the minimum medical requirements of the detained population were not being met…
    The conditions of detention at the Manus Island OPC appeared to be calculated to break the spirit of those detained in the Manus Island OPC. On a number of occasions the extreme conditions of detention resulted in detainees abandoning their claims for asylum and returning to their country of origin…
    When asylum seekers arrived, they were usually badly sunburned, starving, and incontinent of urine and faeces. Often they had vomited on one another. … it was standard procedure to strip these asylum seekers of their belongings on arrival.

Bathroom routines used to break spirits and medical care is routinely withheld.

Bathroom facilities are rarely cleaned … no soap is provided to detainees for personal hygiene … toilet paper is available only upon prior request from the guards’ station before each and every visit … womens’ sanitary pads are considered a ‘fire hazard,’ and so the detainees are forced to ask for them often.

Medical care is desperately needed, and requests for medical are systematically ignored.

A large number of detainees continue to be in need of urgent medical attention.
    Forms for requesting medical attention are only available in English. Many of the detainees do not have a workable understanding of English and the guards will not provide assistance.
    I witnessed this on a number of occasions, and understood it to be common practice.
    Medical treatment is often used as bait for removing detainees from their compound where a particular detainee has complained about conditions. Once removed, and prior to the provision of any form of acceptable medical attention, the relevant detainees are transported to the local prison as a form of punishment for agitation.(Emphasis mine.)

Another employee explains how (and why) detainees are transported:

Wilson Security guards often wake the relevant detainee early in the morning, around 3am. The guards will stand around his bed to intimidate him once he is woken…
    On the morning of the 20th of December 2014, I witnessed a detainee being handcuffed with zip-ties and forcibly transported to the local prison. He was visibly in extreme pain, and complained that the zip-ties were too tight. In response, the attending guards held him down and tightened the zip-ties. On arriving at the local prison, the guards could not remove the zip-ties because they were too tight to be cut off.
    I do not know how the zip-ties were removed.
    The detainee suffered long-term nerve damage.
    The detainee asked why he had been detained and he was informed that it was for “being a smart-arse and trying to contact a lawyer.”

These are just a few of the stories from these offshore concentration camps. There are many more supporting affidavits at lawyer Julian Burnside’s site.

Every detainee I saw was broken … cried … and beyond despair. They just looked to be completely deadened. One said to me “It doesn’t matter what happens ….. I’m already dead”.

This is how Australians treat human beings who have committed no crime, and sought only the freedom to breathe free.



  1. And you have the calculated cruelty at the Greek border where they don't even offer them toilet paper.


    I suspect the 'Medical Doctor formerly employed there' is someone who thinks along the lines of that wretched woman, Sarah Hanson Young.

    There are others who say that the hysterical emotive stories they've heard haven't stacked up.

    1. These are affidavits, Richard. Not gossip.

  2. But it is all about his feelings, and appearances, and perceptions, and such. There is absolutely nothing given about why sanitary pads and toilet paper is available on request, other than his opinion as to why. Given that many invaders in Europe are burning down the facilities that governments are providing for them, it might be possible that there is a similar reason behind the withholding of toilet paper until it is needed. The only reason given, though, is his opinion that it is calculated cruelty on behalf of Australians. That doesn't smack of an objective analysis to me. It smacks of bias and agenda.

    There is also no account taken of the fact that these people are not prisoners. They are free to head back to wherever they arrived from and to apply to come to Australia via normal channels. If you or I tried to just march into Australia illegally we'd be sent packing, and rightly so. In fact, you wouldn't personally dream of ever doing that, because you have too much respect for other peoples property, but you stand up for people who have no respect for it.

    Tony Abbot has put an end to all the drownings that were happening from people trying to enter Australia illegally. For that, he should be praised.


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