Media Release – for immediate release
Witnesseses to murder of Reza Barati must be protected
Allegations that two witnesses to the murder of Reza Barati were beaten, threatened with rape and forced to sign documents withdrawing their witness statements received a new hearing after one of the men ‘Mike’ stepped forward to publically speak about what he says happened. (The ABC is calling the men ‘Mike’ and ‘Matthew’)
‘The allegations were first made in July this year. They include names, witnesses, dates and details, yet remarkably for such serious allegations there has been no police or Immigration Department investigation. The Australian Federal Police are refusing to investigate saying it is a matter for Papua New Guinea. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison denied the allegations when they were first made in July on the basis of….nothing at all. He continues to deny them now on the basis of contractor Transfield’s claim to have conducted an internal investigation. Since when was Transfield qualified to investigate such serious claims of torture and witness intimidation?’ asked Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective.
‘”Mike”is due to testify in the trial over Reza Barati’s murder, which has now been postponed until next year. ‘Mike’ is terrified that he will be attacked or threatened again’ continued Breen.
‘’Mike’ sent the Refugee Action Collective this message today ‘I’m really on edge and don’t think we would be safe till then [the trial]. Three days ago their were gunshots. No-one will tell us why there are gunshots. I assumed this could be a warning about testifying’
‘Scott Morrison’s claims about events on Manus Island have repeatedly been undermined by facts in the past. If Morrison was confident about his denials of witness intimidation he would allow a serious investigation. It is inconceivable that if such allegations were made by a witness to a murder trial in Australia that they would not be investigated by police and witness protection offered. ‘Mike’ and ‘Matthew’ must be brought to Australia immediately for their own safety. Scott Morrison’s refusal to act is collusion in the intimidation of witnesses.’ said Breen
The Refugee Action Collective has spoken to a former Manus employee who says ‘I know ‘Mike’ and ‘Mathew’ well, they were sent in to the Chauka unit, that’s the other thing, Chauka was never there initially, that’s a new thing. Those two guys would not make up anything I can tell you that.’
‘A G4s guard and a Salvation Army worker are on trial for the murder of Reza Barati, but Scott Morrison should also be on trial, Barati’s blood is also on his hands. There must also be an investigation into the credible allegations of torture and threats to the witnesses to Reza Barati’s death. Morrison continues shows callous disregard for asylum seekers safety and for the protection of witnesses in a murder trial. He should be sacked, and the Manus Island detention centre closed’ said Breen
For further comment from the Refugee Action Collective call Chris Breen 0403 013 183
There will be a protest in Sydney tomorrow at the Transfield AGM, against Transfield profiting from the human rights abuses of offshore processing. 1pm at the Museum of Sydney. Contacts for that protest are
Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition, +61 (0) 417 275 713, firstname.lastname@example.org (wwwrefugeeaction.org.au) Joyce Fu, Corner Link- Taking actions to promote environmental and social justice, +61 (0) 405 365 493, email@example.com
Finally the original statement from July of allegations from witnesses to Reza Barati’s murder is below in full (with names redacted)
In 14/7/2014 we had a meeting with Transfield and Wilson managers about issues of internet and phone rooster, when we convinced them that this system doesn’t work, because of the time differences between here and our countries; A stopped the meeting and said: “We set the rules and you must follow it, we don’t care about your time zones”We got upset and told them: We pass our community message to you; it’s not fair and we yield, and left the meeting but we didn’t swear at anyone or threatened anyone. when we got out, our community were waiting for us to know about output of meeting.
then we left area and went to B’s room C came to us and said: “I have been told by A; you should come with us to another meeting to take your suggestions”.
we didn’t accept it, because we knew that they are not going to change the roster. then he said: “I have been ordered if you don’t come, drag you on the ground!”
We still resisted.
So they send D to deceive us, because they knew we trusted on her. She tricked us and told us: “We will be back in one hour”
After that they took us with another friend of us and escorted all 3 of us to somewhere that we haven’t seen it before. they returned our friend back to the compound.
after that they put us in a place surrounded by 4 containers and A and E & F and 6 others that we knew one of them; his name is G came there, and hand cuffed us with plastic zip to our chairs.we wondered and asked: whats the matter?!
they didn’t answer us and A ordered them to beat us in the body not face so it will be no effect left of hitting.
We were crying and asking what is our fault?! They said: “because you always object to all of our rules” and said: “You have to sign a pair of paper; if you object again, we will deport you back to your countries”
we didn’t accept it.
After that they said: “if you don’t sign, because you were witnesses of Reza Berati’s death, PNGs and we are thirsty to your blood, because you are going to testify against our countries people in the court, we will order these locals to rape you and we will sit here and watch it”
So we cried and signed those papers to not to get rapped,
after that they kept us in custody on that rough ground in that area with one loaf of bread and one drinking water per day. We laid down on the ground and slept there in mud.
They kept us there for 72 hours, we asked several times to see PNG Police and said: we want to go to their jail, but they refused.
After that they came and took B back to the compound and A told him: “if you say anything about what happened here we will take you back and we get the locals to rape you and deport you”
Now we are under high watch by three Officers
Please we beg you Help us.