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Whistleblowing doctor David Isaacs says he could go to prison for lifting the lid on how Australia treats illegal immigrants. The pediatrician said he saw a young girl “try to hang herself” and added refugees at the camp on the Pacific Island of Nauru were “treated like criminals”.
Five days in December 2014 was all Isaacs needed to make a decision that could land him in hot water. He was posted to the Pacific island of Nauru, 3300 km northeast of Brisbane. What he saw there resembled hell, he said, as he recorded what amounted to “mental torture” by Australian guards against the refugees being housed there, who they were supposed to be looking after. “I am breaking the law by talking to you about this and I could even go to prison for doing this. Anyone who works there -doctors, teachers, nurses- could go to prison for two years for telling the truth about what is happening”, Isaacs told RT. He was shocked at how the children were being treated and felt that he had no option but to let the public know about Australia’s dirty little secret. “I saw a child as young as six who tried to hang herself”, he said, adding that he saw a number of children who had developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “The parents are very troubled”, Isaacs said. “When the parents are troubled, the children also become troubled, so either they become depressed, or they become angry”.
The Australian Human Rights Commission (1) has published a series of letters written by children who were being held at the detention camp, which is next to an old phosphate mine. One young child wrote : “Our tents are dirty and it’s becoming flooded when the rains begin. After that, the tents have leaks and holes”. Another said : “The officers shout at us. The way they treat us is very bad. They treat us like animals”.
This is something that Isaacs noted during his stay, adding that the detention centers were “like prisons”. “Everybody was rough with them and they just didn’t treat them very well. They were treated almost as though they were criminals. The living quarters were awful so they were living in very hot tents, but there was no water in there. So if they wanted to go to the toilet or have a shower, they would have to walk 100 meters”, he told RT.
While Isaacs said he did not witness any physical torture during his stay in Nauru, others beg to disagree. A former employee of Wilson Security, which is responsible for looking after the facility, said guards at the facility have used waterboarding and another torture technique known as “zipping”. “This process occurs by using cable ties to secure an asylum seeker to a metal bed with metal bars at the base ... the bed is thrown into the air and injury caused to the asylum seeker as the bed strikes the floor”, said the witness, who spoke under the condition of anonymity to avoid the possibility of future prosecution.
Asked about the allegations on Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott denied any wrongdoing had taken place. “I’d say they’re false, they’re absolutely false and if people have evidence to the contrary, let it be produced”, he said of the allegations, the Guardian reported.
A parliamentary inquiry that began in May 2015 has found that the center has received 67 allegations of child abuse, nearly half of them involving staff. Thirty-three detainees have complained of sexual assault, and five have claimed that they were offered drugs and other perks in exchange for providing sexual favors. No one has been arrested in connection with the allegations.