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Woomera Asylum Seekers Teargassed, Handcuffed


Woomera Asylum Seekers Teargassed, Handcuffed

Fire Only Option Left To Detainees In Australia

Ex-Camp Guard Speaks Out

Australian Federal Police uses teargas, handcuffs and strip searches on all Woomera camp residents

The blazes lit up the skies across Australia on News Years Eve 2002 and New Years Day 2003 were a desperate cry for help from from desperate people imprisoned without trial indefinitely at Woomera, Baxter, Port Hedland, Christmas Island and Villawood.

The fires were a direct result of the punitive and inhuman policies of the Australian Government which breach Human Rights and Refugee Conventions and treaties to which Australia is a signatory.

Children, families and individuals are imprisoned, tortured and denied access to information or support.

Human rights activists in Australia are being threatened publicly by members of the government and the press are prevented from entering the camps to report the appalling conditions or interview detainees.

The Australian community is being subjected to an active and effective propaganda campaign vilifying refugees and Asylum Seekers.

This has come from Australia's PM John Howard who will not say 'Sorry' to indigenous Australians, and who appropriated the ideas of the discredited ultra right-wing Pauline Hanson and turned them into his own Liberal party policy for political gain in the 2001 Election which some refugee supporters call "The Tampa Election" (after the MV Tampa, Norwegian Captain Arne Rinnan's ship, which last year was pressured by the Australian government to contravene Conventions of The Sea.

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AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE uses teargas, handcuffs and strip searches on all Woomera residents

A former ACM staff member who does not want to be identified, has revealed to Project SafeCom Inc. how Australasian Correctional Management and Australian Federal police have carried out their socalled 'crackdown' in the Woomera detention centre in South Australia's outback.

Project SafeCom's Jack Smit reports that teargas was indiscriminately used on all Woomera residents on New Year's eve, and how the entire resident population was herded into the centre's basketball court in the full desert sun for an entire day without as much as a drink of water, while Woomera's about 130 residents were handcuffed for more than 48 hours.

After this week's fire at the Woomera detention centre, AFP and ACM staff herded everyone into the mess room on New Year's eve, and teargas was used on detainees. This teargas was reportedly used on everyone, and used indiscriminately. The entire population of the Woomera detention centre was handcuffed, a situation with has remained in place for at least 48 hours.

On New Year's day at about 10am AFP and ACM started on a search of all compounds for contraband. Before they started their search at the Oscar compound - working through the compounds one at the time, they herded all - still handcuffed - residents from all compounds to the outside basketball court, and they kept the entire population in this outside location for at least seven hours. The search of all compounds was finished at about 9pm that day.

Project SafeCom's source reveals that while ACM and AFP replenished themselves with Coke and water throughout the day, the handcuffed detainees were not given anything to drink.

Also - reportedly on New Year's eve - all men were stripped naked, without exception. This strip search was not limited to those who may have been identified as suspected 'troublemakers' or ringleaders or those suspected of starting the fire at the Woomera centre. Those men who hesitated or refused, for normal hesitancy, privacy or religious reasons, were simply left standing until they complied. This strip search may have happened in the mentioned 'mess room', or in a more discrete environment - details about this were not given.

"There are an estimated 30 women and 16 children amongst the Woomera population, who were presumably exposed and part of these events", Mr Smit said.

"All detainees are allowed to have a cassette player as their private property. Before these items are passed to detainees, the recording facility is disabled by ACM", Mr Smit reported.

"I do not know why this is so", Mr Smit said. "Maybe ACM wants to avoid at all cost for this type of action to be recorded and sent out. Now as one of the results of the fires, all cassette players have been confiscated".

He went on to say: "There is now just one washing machine for about 130 people. Since the crackdown residents are no longer allowed to consume meals in their own rooms. Reportedly, detainees are no longer allowed to send any mail anymore."

Mr Smit concluded: "I am not a lawyer. But it seems clear to me that once again this government is guilty of human rights abuses. There is a system in place in Australia through the deliberate creation of this horrendous mandatory detention regime, which creates and promotes severe secrecy, standover tactics, intimidation and oppression."

"To me it seems that all of the key aspects of this policy need to be tested in an appropriate court, to see whether this kind of approach, appallingly so created by the Howard government in response to the UN Refugee Convention, and the way it crushes all rights of human beings, constitutes a crime against humanity".

"It's time someone with more legal knowledge than me takes this government to an appropriate court to test this."

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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