Rape and torture in Australian refugee detention centre: whistleblower


A whistleblower who worked at the Manus Island refugee detention centre in Papua New Guinea has spoken out, condemning it as not even fit to “serve as a dog kennel”. The former Head of Occupational Health and Safety, Rod St George, made a series of disturbing allegations about conditions at the Australian-run centre in an exclusive interview with Dateline on SBS ONE.


Click to see videos


“I’ve never seen human beings so destitute, so helpless and so hopeless before,” he told reporter Mark Davis, as he described repeated instances of rape and sexual abuse between asylum seekers with the full knowledge of staff.

“We might separate people in those circumstances on the mainland, but there aren’t any facilities at Manus to do that, so these people who have been assaulted are forced to remain back in the tent,” he said.

“We talk about this as an island that’s 700 kilometres north of Port Moresby… [but] if you knew there were people next door being raped and you said nothing, you’d be complicit.”

St George also described how detainee ‘heavies’ forced other asylum seekers to sew their lips together, and he detailed how one man had an ear drum perforated when he was tortured by other detainees.

And he claimed that acts of self-harm and attempted suicides are occurring “almost daily” among asylum seekers waiting months for their asylum applications to be processed.

“In Australia, the facility couldn’t even serve as a dog kennel. The owners would be jailed,” he told Dateline. “I felt ashamed to be Australian.”

St George resigned from his role after just a month.

The allegations come as the Australian Government announces all asylum seekers arriving by boat will be processed and resettled in Papua New Guinea, with the Manus Island centre to be expanded.

Dateline put the allegations to recently appointed Immigration Minister Tony Burke, who revealed it’s the first time he’d heard the most serious claims.

“I need to hear the very specific allegations, I need to make sure they’re properly investigated,” he told Mark. “If the implementation of different policies needs to be reviewed as a matter of that, then that needs to occur.”

Mr Burke asked to be put in touch with Rod St George to hear further details.

Dateline's latest revelations follow Mark’s disturbing story two months ago about life at Manus Island, when Australian officials at the detention centre went to great lengths to stop him filming.

Watch Mark's whistleblower exclusive above, and read more on the Dateline website.

Zeige Kommentare: ausgeklappt | moderiert



Anyone who has worked in Nauru will see them as the desperate souls they are,' Salvation Army workers said in a statement after the recent riots at the island detention centre.


RELATED:  Greens’ compassionate and legal refugee policy  |  “Anger growing in PNG”  |  Think you’re being snowed?  |  Malaria death risk for mothers and children  |   Thousands protested in Sydney  |   “Since 1788 a part of the population has worried about being overrun by foreigners.”  |  “One of the hardest and most retributory policies since the White Australia program”


Former and current Salvation Army staff who have spent the last 10 months working with asylum seekers at the Regional Processing Centres in Nauru and Manus Island issued the following public statement.


“For those of us who work and have worked in Nauru, this riot although shocking, was an inevitable outcome from a cruel and degrading policy. Since the opening of the Nauru Regional Processing Centre (NRPC) there have been incidents of unrest that have reoccurred in escalating seriousness. Salvation Army staff in Nauru have been predicting such a tragedy for a long time.


“We have worked alongside these asylum seekers since the opening of the NRPC when the men were first housed in tents. Brought them pedestal fans when the temperature within their tents soared to over 50 degrees. Used buckets to empty rivers of rainwater when the same temporary accommodation flooded during the wet season. We comforted men who were brought to Nauru in handcuffs by the Australian government under false pretences. We watched their numerous peaceful protests against the uncertainty of their future. We saw the scars of self-harm, and suicide attempts.


“We tried to motivate the hundreds of men on hunger strike to eat again. The asylum seekers have been given no idea of when their applications will be processed, or when they can leave Nauru. If they are found to be refugees, they do not know if they will be resettled in Australia or on the other side of the world. Meanwhile their families are left struggling in their home countries.


“Countless men have suffered physically and psychologically. The mental health impact of detention in this harsh physical and policy environment cannot be overstated. The service providers in Nauru have been unable to prevent the marked deterioration in health in wellbeing. Previously healthy, resilient men have been worn down. We have witnessed a man scrabbling in the dirt, suffering a psychotic breakdown for several days without treatment, read another man’s suicide note apologising to his family, and seen countless others who suffered similar mental breakdowns.


“Thousands of tax-payers dollars have been spent on flying asylum seekers to the Australian mainland for medical treatment on ailments suffered in detention. The asylum seekers have voiced their concerns over and over again only to be continuously ignored by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). Despite this constant degradation and suffering, we have witnessed the strength, humility and resilience of these people. We have seen men from all cultures pour their energy in to keeping themselves and each other alive and hopeful.


“The support and kindness that the men detained in Nauru offered to each other and the staff never wavered, even in the face of increasing injustice and frustration. There are countless examples of their good nature, not withholding the Tamils indicted in this current unrest. The Tamils who were always the men who put their arm around you in a friendly gesture and assisted in labour with no thought of reward.


“The most recent incident in Nauru was not borne out of malice. It was a build up of pressure and anxiety over 10 months of degrading treatment, and a planned peaceful protest that degenerated. It was a reaction to a refugee processing system that is devoid of logic and fairness. While we do not condone these actions and are horrified by what has happened, we can understand the frustration and the anger that led to such a demonstration. We would also like to offer our sympathies to the Nauruan people who have suffered during this period.


“We have good reason to believe that those asylum seekers arrested and detained in Nauruan jail will not be provided with legal representation. It is likely that a large number of those men arrested in the riot did not in fact act criminally. As such we advocate for everyone to be treated as innocent until proven guilty in a court. This is especially pertinent given the comments of Minister Tony Burke already stating that visas may not be granted to those men arrested. We also believe that there are many injured men who are not receiving adequate medical treatment. We call for immediate action from human rights groups to be present in Nauru to assist those men in jail and those men who need immediate medical treatment.


“We fear that their reputations and the reputation of all asylum seekers will be marred by an incident which was 10 months in the making.


“For those people who sit outside of Nauru, who have never met an asylum seeker, it is easy to judge these men as dangerous, destructive or ungrateful. But anyone who has worked in Nauru will see them as the desperate souls they are. Fathers, sons, brothers, who are trying to forge a life for themselves and their family. Frustrated and down-trodden by the degrading bureaucracy implemented by our government.”

A Socialist Alliance statement:


A Third World country suffering rising violence, rapes, political corruption and plagued by endemic diseases such as cholera and malaria will be the new dumping ground for Australia’s refugee arrivals. 


Detention, assessment and resettlement in Papua New Guinea will lead to myriad human rights violations. 


The “Regional Resettlement Arrangement” between Rudd and PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill would be in place for at least the next 12 months, and there is no cap on the number of refugees Australia can send.


Those found to be genuine refugees would still be barred from resettlement in Australia, and new assessment processes would deport more people with less right to appeal and due process.


In exchange, Australia would fund so-called health and education reforms, in addition to a recent pledge to send 50 Australian police to PNG to “tackle crime” after armed soldiers attacked a hospital.


Rudd has also started an international campaign to weaken the refugee convention, which makes up a large part of the moral and humanitarian backbone of the refugee rights movements globally.


The plan goes further than anything an Australian government has carried out since boatloads of refugees fleeing imperialist global conflict began arriving. It promises the displaced and brutalised people of the world that: “If you come here by boat without a visa, you won’t be settled in Australia.”


Violating the Refugee Convention — that forbids discrimination against refugees on the basis of how they arrive — and expelling them to a nation that is also subject to Australia’s colonial power is a move that exposes the barbaric core of imperialism.


Australia is part of the rich-world fortress, which forces most of the world’s people to live in poverty and subject to exploitation and military terror. Most of the global conflict underway today is the result of this system, and so is the relatively small number of people that resort to take risky vessels to Australia.


No amount of promises to resettle “refugees that have been languishing in camps for years” can reconcile Rudd with any notion of upholding human rights. It is essentially a move to try to beat Liberal leader Tony Abbott at his own filthy political game.


One thing Rudd said was right. The refugee crisis is growing worse globally and more people are being forced into seeking asylum by any means necessary.


First World countries like Australia are growing increasingly reluctant to shoulder humanity’s calamity because it is a direct result of capitalism’s systematic exploitation and brutalisation of the world.


The numbers making it to Australia are still tiny compared with the rest of the world. But the government is now, in effect, bribing a neighbouring poor country to accept the legal, moral and humane obligations that are categorically Australia’s. PNG has no chance of providing a safe new home for refugees, and the move will lead to disaster.


Seeking asylum by boat is not a crime. People have a human right to seek asylum and be resettled in Australia. There are policies that can be implemented straight away that would reverse this spiralling descent to the bottom.


All refugee supporters need to stand up and show their outrage at what Rudd is doing because other countries are watching Australia to see if they can get away with it as well.


The Socialist Alliance supports: 


  • Ending Australian support for and participation in all imperial wars and occupations.


  • Implementing a foreign, trade and aid policy that puts people’s needs before corporate greed. An example is what is being done in Latin America through ALBA.


  • Ending Australia's rogue climate nation status (which contributes to global warming and the subsequent displacement of millions of people) and begin the phasing out of coal and other fossil fuels. The technology exists, it is affordable and will create useful jobs.


  • Closing the offshore and onshore asylum seeker detention camps, ending mandatory detention and using the billions paid to Serco (the multinational security firm that runs these camps) to fly in the desperate refugees in Indonesia and Malaysia who are trying to get on the boats. Also stepping up efforts to resettle refugees from UNHCR camps around the world.


  • Fully respecting and implementing Australia's obligations under the UN Refugee Convention.