Australian torture of refugees in Nauru


This video says about itself:

10 September 2016

In 2013, Australia’s government announced a tough new policy towards refugees travelling by boat to its shores. The campaign that went with it was called, “No way. You will not make Australia home“.

Its goal was to discourage asylum seekers from entering the country “illegally” – as the government saw it.

Most were coming from countries such as Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Many refugees – having fled their homes – considered themselves stateless.

Their journeys were arduous and complex. Those from Iran, for instance, would travel first to Malaysia, where they could enter without a visa. Then they’d make their way to southernmost Indonesia, and from there they took boats towards Australia’s closest islands.

The trips typically involved people smugglers and dangerous – sometimes deadly – journeys on boats that were often overloaded and unseaworthy.

Of the boats intercepted at sea by the Australian Border Force, many were forcibly turned back to where they’d come from. But passengers on some – and all those who did make it into Australian waters – were taken into custody, then deported, flown to neighbouring countries.

There, in Nauru and on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, they are still held in what Australia’s government calls “regional processing centres”.

Nauru is a tiny 29 square kilometre island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

That small independent country – a member of the United Nations – has played a central role in the history of Australia’s refugee policies.

Nauru’s “detention centre” first opened in 2001, under a policy brought in by Australia’s conservative Liberal Party – the so-called “Pacific Solution”.

But this all changed when Kevin Rudd, from the centre-left Labour party, came to power in 2007. Rudd closed Nauru’s centre and most of the refugees were relocated to Australia.

But then as the number of asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat started going back up, the Labour Party’s government was forced to reconsider. The centre reopened in 2012.

Today, the island’s detention centre is home to almost 500 people, including about 50 children.

Many of them have been there for more than three years.

But what’s going on inside? Both the Nauruan and Papua New Guinean detention centres are run under a veil of secrecy, off-limits to the media and to NGOs like Amnesty International.

People working there are not allowed to talk about what they have seen. Why?

Talk to Al Jazeera sits down with former employees who have decided to break their silence to tell us about the situation inside Australia’s offshore detention centres.

Are they, as the government says, having the desired effect, by discouraging people from making dangerous journeys? But are they also, as the people we spoke to say, dehumanising and dangerous?

We spoke to Evan Davis, a teacher who used to work with children living in the Australian-run camp in Nauru. Despite secrecy provisions limiting the ability of staff to talk, he decided to share his experience.

“It struck me straight away that the place was more like a military camp, a prison, more than anything else, that was efficiently run,” he says. The children were referred to by personnel as numbers, not names, and Davis said the teachers endeavoured to make a point of learning the children’s names.

Judith Reem used to teach secondary school children on Nauru. She, herself, comes from a family of Bosnian refugees to Australia, which is one of the reasons she decided to speak out publicly. The tents where people lived, she says, were not designed for habitation, and cultural considerations, such as spaces for people to pray, were not taken into account.

Judith Reem feels particularly bad about having prepared the children for a life in Australia which was never going to happen.

“I feel, that in retrospect, I was a part of the lie, because I was teaching them conversational English for life in Australia and that just hasn’t happened,” she says. The conditions were worse than in a prison, Reem says.

“Some of the children in the camp can’t remember life before the camp because they were so little when they arrived,” she says.

“The cloak of secrecy around it [the camps] is what allows us this plausible deniability, which is hopefully a luxury I can take away.”

Jennifer Rose, a former elementary school teacher in Nauru, believes Australia needs to take a different approach when it comes to dealing with asylum seekers.

“How could you not be affected by seeing children retraumatised by a system that Australia has set up?” Rose asks.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Asylum-seekers ‘tortured’ on Australia‘s ‘Island of Despair’

Monday 17th October 2016

AMNESTY International releases a hard-hitting report today on Australia’s detention of asylum-seekers on the island of Nauru, where it says conditions “amount to torture.”

The 64-page Island of Despair report accuses the Canberra government of subjecting refugees and asylum-seekers to a cruel regime of abuse, flouting international law, in conditions which amount to torture.

It highlights cases of asylum-seekers self-harming or trying to take their own lives.

The Nauruan authorities have even arrested asylum-seekers and refugees for self-harm, the report records, leading to their imprisonment in a “prison within a prison.”

Amnesty senior director of research Anna Neistat, who managed to visit the remote island to investigate rights abuses, said: “On Nauru, the Australian government runs an open-air prison designed to inflict as much suffering as necessary to stop some of the world’s most vulnerable people from trying to find safety in Australia.

“The government of Australia has isolated vulnerable women, men and children in a remote place which they cannot leave, with the specific intention that these people should suffer.

“And suffer they have. It has been devastating and, in some cases, irreparable.

“It’s a vicious trap. People in anguish attempt to end their own lives to escape it but then find themselves behind bars, hurled into a prison within a prison.

“The Australian government’s policy is the exact opposite of what countries should be pursuing. It is a model that minimises protection and maximises harm.”

Australia has spent billions of pounds to create and maintain its inherently abusive offshore processing system.

According to the Australian National Audit Office, offshore processing on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea has cost more than £350,000 annually per person.

Much of this money has been spent on companies contracted to work on Nauru, many of which have said that they will cease operations on the island.

Individual staff from some companies have become whistleblowers, even under the threat of criminal prosecution for exposing the desperate situation on Nauru.

Allowing people’s mental health to deteriorate without adequate treatment appears to be a deliberate part of the Australian government’s deterrence policy, Amnesty researchers found.

Doctors, medical staff and supporters rallied last weekend in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Cairns, Darwin and Newcastle in opposition to the Australian government’s brutal treatment of refugees. An estimated 5,000 protested in Sydney, up to 3,000 in Melbourne and hundreds in other cities. Demonstrations were held the previous weekend in Brisbane and Canberra: here.

Legislation to impose a lifetime ban on any refugees even visiting Australia passed the House of Representatives, parliament’s lower house, last Thursday. The Liberal-National government remains determined to get the bill through the Senate despite widespread public opposition to its blatant violation of international law: here.

CIA torture report, background


This video says about itself:

CIA ‘torture’: Inside the ‘blackout box’ – BBC News

3 August 2015

**VIDEO CONTAINS SOME DISTURBING IMAGES** BBC reporter Hilary Andersson finds out what it is like to be inside a “blackout box” used in so-called “enhanced interrogation“. The agency’s position has always been that the “enhanced interrogation” techniques it used under George W Bush did not amount to torture, because they were legally approved by the White House at the time. President Obama closed the CIA’s programme down when he came to power in 2009. BBC Panorama reporter Hilary Andersson experiences what it is like inside a “blackout box” as used by CIA interrogators.

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

This week, the Guardian‘s Spencer Ackerman published a threepart series detailing the backstory of the CIA’s battle with the Senate over torture. Ackerman’s stories focused on Daniel Jones, who was the lead investigator for the Senate report on CIA torture. On Saturday, we spoke to Ackerman about his work. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Ukrainian secret police torture jails


This video says about itself:

Ukrainian SBU tortured my husband to death

This is an interview with the wife of the man who was tortured to death by Ukrainian SBU.

The interview is dated from 17 November 2014 and was conducted by Graham Philips.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Secret prisoners’ release exposes ‘grotesque’ SBU

Tuesday 30th August 2016

Baker’s dozen of inmates bring tales of horror from Kiev secret service jails

by Our Foreign Desk

THE release of 13 people by Ukraine’s secret service has brought with it a wealth of new information on the country’s secret jails, rights activists said yesterday.

It adds to the “overwhelming” amount of evidence on “the grotesque practice of secret detention” which Ukrainian authorities continue to deny, said Amnesty International Europe director John Dalhuisen.

Amnesty and Human Rights Watch published a report last month into torture and secret detention on both sides of Ukraine’s civil war, and sent a list of 16 people jailed by Ukraine’s security service (SBU) to the country’s chief military prosecutor.

Twelve of the 13, released from the spooks’ Kharkiv lockup in late July and early August, were on that list of disappeared people.

One, Vyktor Ashykhin, was kidnapped from his home on December 7 2014. He said that the authorities had moved him and others around the Kharkiv compound several times during his 597-day captivity in order to hide them during inspections of the facility.

Another, Mykola Vakaruk, taken two days after Mr Ashykhin, had to have his kidney out and was put in hospital under a fake name. After the operation, he spent 30 days in a Kharkiv hospital handcuffed to his bed and watched at all times by an SBU officer.

When they were let go on July 25, guards told them to keep their mouths shut or else.

Those released said five people are still locked away — two are Russian citizens and another has a mental illness.

One of the Russians, Vladimir Bezobrazov, was arrested while on a family holiday in the Odessa region. Border guards forced him to confess that he had come to recruit people to fight against the Kiev government — when he just voiced support for the anti-fascist fighters while in a local cafe.

He retracted the confession but later confirmed it as part of a swap for a captured pro-Kiev fighter. He was given a suspended sentence but on the steps of the court he was bundled into a van and has been missing since.

A man released from secret SBU detention later told Mr Bezobrazov’s mother that he was being held by the spooks.

“The release of 13 people is welcome, but simply confirms the need to end and investigate these abuses and deliver justice to the victims,” said Mr Dalhuisen.

Argentine dictatorship torture general sentenced


This video says about itself:

Argentine General Sentenced to Life

26 August 2016

The ruling [about] former Argentine General Menendez brought thousands to the streets. A general during the horrific US-backed Dirty War, Menendez has been sentenced to life in prison after being charged with 600 cases of torture and over 300 murders.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Menendez gets life for dirty war role

Saturday 27th August 2016

ARGENTINA: Former General Luciano Benjamin Menendez was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for crimes committed at secret dirty war-era detention centres.

Thousands gathered outside the Cordoba court to await the judgement.

Gen Menendez stood trial with 42 other defendants, set to be sentenced yesterday after a nearly four-year so-called “mega-trial,” for more than 300 murders and 600 cases of torture between 1976 and 1978.

Australians protest against prison child abuse


This video says about itself:

AUSTRALIA’S SHAME: The brutalisation of children behind bars | Four Corners

Monday 25 July 2016 – It almost defies belief but right here in Australia there is a prison system that locks up 10 year olds and places children as young as thirteen in solitary confinement.

“This is barbarism, this is inhumane, this is child abuse.” Lawyer

Children have been confined to an isolation wing with no access to sunlight or running water.

“Those cells were ghoulish, they were something medieval.” Lawyer

Some held for weeks on end, deprived of basic necessities.

“We all sort of looked at each other in shock… there were signs of life in there but we didn’t know who was in there or what was happening, or how long they’d been there.” Lawyer

Deprived of hope.

“What’s going on with children in detention here is a deliberate, punitive, cruel policy.” Lawyer

On Monday night Four Corners reveals the shocking truth about the treatment of children behind bars, where young offenders have been stripped naked, assaulted and tear gassed.

“They had absolutely nowhere to run…Those children were afraid for their lives.” Children’s Advocate

Held by a system that seems bent on breaking children instead of reforming them.

“If I treated my children like that, the authorities would take my children from me quite properly because I would be behaving cruelly to them.” Lawyer

This confronting investigation will send shock waves around Australia.

Australia’s Shame, reported by Caro Meldrum-Hanna and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 25th July at 8.30pm. It is replayed on Tuesday 26th July at 10.00am and Wednesday 27th at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.

Don Dale Youth Detention Centre

This video says about itself:

UN Human Rights High Commission Condemns Australia Youth Prison Abuse

30 July 2016

Demonstrators gather outside Sydney’s Town Hall to protest against alleged child abuse. (Reuters)

USA: The end of boot camp prisons (yes, those are a thing).

Blairite Jack Straw, MI6’s Sir Mark Allen ‘too big to jail’ for Libyan torture


This video from the USA says about itself:

Files Reveal U.S. & Britain Had Extensive Ties With Libya on Rendition, Torture. 1 of 2

7 September 2011

Human Rights Watch has uncovered hundreds of letters in the Libyan foreign ministry proving the Gaddafi government directly aided the extraordinary rendition program carried out by the CIA and the MI6 in Britain after the 9/11 attacks. The documents expose how the CIA rendered suspects to Libyan authorities knowing they would be tortured. One of the most prominent suspects rendered to Libya was an Islamic militant named Abdelhakim Belhaj, who is now the military commander for the Libyan rebels. …

Democracy Now! speaks to Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, who helped find the documents in Tripoli; and Gareth Peirce, a well-known British human rights attorney who has represented numerous Guantánamo prisoners as well as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

This video is the sequel.

By Jean Shaoul in Britain:

Labour’s Jack Straw and MI6’s Sir Mark Allen shielded from prosecution over rendition to Libya

13 July 2016

The UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced that Sir Mark Allen, the former head of MI6’s counterterrorism operations, and then Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will not face criminal charges for their role in the illegal rendition and torture of Libyan dissidents.

Its decision flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence of Britain’s involvement at the very highest level in the rendition and torture of two Libyan Islamist dissidents in 2004. Just days later, the Guardian reported that the government had, as of last September, spent at least £600,000 in an effort to prevent a civil case going ahead, forcing Straw and Allen to give evidence.

Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a Libyan Islamist opposed to former leader Muammar Gaddafi, and his wife, are suing the then Labour government, the foreign secretary and the head of Britain’s security service for complicity in their detention, rendition and torture in 2004 at the hands of the CIA on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, one of the agency’s global network of “dark sites.”

Detainees at these sites were subject to detention for years under the most inhumane conditions, torture, water boarding, sexual assault, sleep deprivation, forcing inmates to stand on broken limbs, and murder, for which no officials have stood trial.

While it was common knowledge that Diego Garcia was used as a US detention facility, the British government has always maintained that it never gave the US explicit permission to use the island for its rendition, detention and torture programme.

Balhaj claims that during his six years in a Libyan prison he was interrogated by US and British intelligence agents. His pregnant wife claims she was chained to a wall for five days, then taped to a stretcher for the 17-hour flight to Libya where she was detained in prison until just before the delivery of her son, who was born weighing just four pounds.

In 2012, the British government paid out £2.2 million to another Libyan dissident, Sami al-Saadi and his family, who stated under oath that the British intelligence authorities forcibly transferred them to Libya to be detained and tortured. This was to prevent the Libyans’ evidence being heard in court, and the foreign secretary and senior intelligence officials having to give evidence.

Belhaj has been determined to get the British government to admit to its crimes. He offered to call off the proceedings in exchange for just £3 in damages, an admission of liability for what was done to him and his wife, and an apology from the British government. The government rejected the offer and has since sought to get the courts to block the case.

Belhaj’s lawyers have cited documents found in abandoned government offices in Tripoli after the 2011 NATO-led invasion of Libya to topple the Gaddafi regime and install a puppet government. In the 2011 operation, NATO backed the same Al Qaeda-linked Islamist forces, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, of which Belhaj was a leader, and whose members NATO had earlier illegally rendered to Libya.

The documents include a letter from MI6’s senior officer, Sir Mark Allen, to Libya’s intelligence chief, Musa Kusa, showing that the CIA, with help from British intelligence, used Diego Garcia as a stopover for rendering Belhaj and his pregnant wife to be tortured in Libya.

Last November, the government went to the UK’s Supreme Court in an effort to block the case, arguing that British courts cannot hear Belhaj’s case since agents of foreign intelligence agencies, meaning the CIA, were also involved in the operation. The government has thus far spent at least £10 million trying to prevent the case from being heard. The court has yet to deliver its judgement on whether Belhaj’s suit can proceed.

Another case is being brought by 12 opponents of the Gaddafi regime—six Libyan men, the widow of a seventh, and five British citizens of Libyan and Somali origin—against both Britain’s spy agencies, MI5 and MI6, the Home Office and the Foreign Office.

Using evidence from the recovered documents, they are alleging false imprisonment, blackmail, misfeasance in public office and conspiracy to assault, and demanding damages. They claim that the British government worked closely with Libya and used information obtained under torture from Sami al-Saadi and Abdel Hakim Belhaj as evidence against them during partially secret proceedings in London.

Initially, both Straw, who as foreign secretary in Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour government was responsible for MI6, and Allen denied any British involvement in extraordinary rendition. Successive British governments have sought to cover up what was going on. When the Libyan documents revealing British complicity in detentions and torture came to light, Straw claimed he could not be expected to know everything the intelligence agencies were doing.

The intelligence services have flatly contradicted this, saying that it was “ministerially authorised government policy.” Sir Richard Dearlove, head of MI6 at the time, said, “It was a political decision, having very significantly disarmed Libya, for the government to cooperate with Libya on Islamist terrorism.”

In 2011, the NATO-led invasion of Libya to topple the Gaddafi regime, which the Blair government had previously brought in from the cold in 2004, was to use these same “Islamist terrorists” as its proxies.

According to the Guardian, Eliza Manningham-Buller, who headed the domestic intelligence service MI5, was furious about MI6’s involvement in extraordinary rendition and torture. She wrote to Blair complaining about it, saying its actions may have compromised the security and safety of MI5 officers and their informants, and even threw MI6 staff out of MI5’s headquarters. Human rights lawyers are now demanding that the government publish the letter.

Following the publication of the correspondence in 2011, the London Metropolitan Police carried out a four-year investigation, gathering 28,000 pages of evidence about Britain’s role in extraordinary renditions and torture, which it presented to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The CPS claimed that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone. However, it was forced to acknowledge that “the suspect,” described as a public official, meaning Sir Mark Allen, knew about the renditions of the Belhaj and Saadi families, thereby blowing apart the government’s attempts to keep its criminal role in renditions and torture under wraps.

Crucially, in an attempt to protect Straw, the CPS did not invoke section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act that protects MI6 officers from prosecution for illegal acts anywhere in the world as long as the secretary of state had authorised their actions in writing.

The lawyers for the Belhaj and Saadi families have said they intend to challenge the CPS’s decision not to bring charges. If their challenge fails, they could initiate judicial review of the decision-making process.

Straw’s criminality was also highlighted in the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war. According to its report, he played a key role in “hardening up” a document setting out the threat supposedly posed by Iraq and its non-existent weapons of mass destruction under Saddam Hussein.

This is not the first time such a claim was made. The 2004 Hutton inquiry revealed an email written by Straw’s then private secretary that described his role as foreign secretary in “hardening up” the dossier with a “killer paragraph.”

Trump abuses Istanbul atrocity for promoting torture


This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Using Istanbul Attack To Push Torture, Waterboarding

29 June 2016

Donald Trump wasted little time trying to capitalize on the Istanbul terrorist attack. He thinks more waterboarding and torture could have prevented the bombing. Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola (ThinkTank), hosts of The Young Turks, break it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“Donald Trump responded to the deadly bombings that ripped through Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on Tuesday with renewed calls for torture.

“We can’t do waterboarding but they can do chopping off heads, drowning people in steel cages, they can do whatever they want to do,” Trump told attendees at a St. Clairsville, Ohio rally. “You know, you have to fight fire with fire.”

At least 36 people were killed and over 140 were wounded in multiple suicide bombings at one of the world’s busiest airports. Turkish officials have said Islamic State [ISIS] fighters were likely responsible for the attack.

“Folks, there’s something going on that’s really really bad,” Trump said at the rally. “All right? It’s bad. And we better get smart and we better get tough or we’re not going to have much much a country left, okay? It’s bad. Terrible.””

Read more here.

Trump Amps Up His Call For Torture: ‘We’re Going To Have To Do Things That Are Unthinkable’. Trump, long a champion of waterboarding, is tightening his embrace of torture: here.

Coal Baron Promises Huge Layoffs, Then Tells Workers To Vote Trump: here.