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Crikey Says

May 29, 2014

Crikey says: secret documents reveal Manus horror

Inside Manus Island: a special investigation. They’re spying on politicians, too. Razer on uni protests and that Crabb article. WA Labor skirmish. Brandis indifference on Aussie drone deaths. News dumps Netflix yarn. And Tim Blair for the ABC?

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Today we publish Inside Manus Island, a special investigation in collaboration with Melbourne Uni publication The Citizen. Our stories are based on a drop of thousands of documents from inside the secretive Australian-run immigration centre on Manus Island — and they contain some strange and disturbing information.

We reveal that a bizarre — and prophetic — scare campaign was used on the island to warn detainees about the dangers of life in PNG.

Asylum seekers were told in an educational PowerPoint presentation used by contractors to expect “beatings [and] slashings with machetes” from a corrupt PNG police force if they protested.

Police might ask for sexual favours “in return for not imprisoning you,” the presentation adds, and might “commit crimes themselves, such as bashing or killing someone, in return for a small bribe”.

Crikey understands the content of the PowerPoint, used at the centre from December last year, was approved for use by the Australian government.

Was the information an attempt to educate asylum seekers or scare them into returning home? And if contractors working for the Australian government were aware of dangers posed by a violent PNG police force (who have now been implicated in February’s violence at the centre) as early as last year, why wasn’t this addressed at the highest levels?

It’s little wonder that the rampant sexual abuse and threats occurring between detainees at the centre, also detailed in today’s stories, have rarely been reported to the PNG police.

The Coalition government has shrouded its asylum seeker policy in secrecy. These documents shed some light on a policy that, while it may have “stopped the boats,” comes at a high price in human misery.

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