AUSTRALIA: Soldiers ‘assault peace activists on Swan Island’

Sunday 12 October 2014

Date: 11 October 2014

Type: News

Source: Green Left Weekly

Keywords: Protest, human rights, war in Iraq

Before dawn on October 2, eight peace activists entered the top secret Swan Island military base near Queenscliff, Victoria.

The group entered the base to nonviolently disrupt preparations for the imminent war in Iraq. Four of the activists were discovered, detained and assaulted by SAS soldiers on the base. The treatment of the activists by the SAS bordered on torture.

The four were forcibly stripped naked, handcuffed, struck on the face and choked. Their clothing was cut off with knives, hessian bags were placed over their heads and they were told, “welcome to the bag motherfucker”, and asked, “do you want to go for a swim?” before being dragged naked across the ground.

SAS personnel stood on activists’ heads and backs causing injury and said: “If you move we will kick you in the face.” Activists were dragged and dropped on the ground when they didn’t respond to questions.

When the Victorian Police arrived on the scene, the assaults ceased. Peace activist Sam Quinlan said: “I was thankful for the arrival of the police — when they got there I finally felt safe.” An ambulance was called to the front gate as activists were released from custody to attend to their injuries.

Another activist who entered the military facility, Greg Rolles, said: “The use of these tactics on citizens of Australia peacefully protesting the actions of the SAS is an alarming indication of the use of torture the SAS is employing in Iraq, Afghanistan and other undisclosed locations.”

Hugh de Kretser, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre, said: “These are extremely disturbing allegations which need to be fully investigated. If true, this behaviour is clearly unlawful.”

Another member of the group, Jasmine Pilbrow, said: “We were trying to disrupt the preparations for this imminent war and are concerned that Australia’s involvement will only play into the hands of militant extremists.”

The group is particularly concerned about the role of the SAS, who use Swan Island in their ongoing role in Afghanistan as well as likely roles in Iraq and Syria.

“There are clear alternatives to bombing ISIS,” said Fiona Taylor, who was protesting at the Swan Island main gate. “Blocking oil supply channels, having arms embargoes and support of a regional solution all will cripple ISIS without breeding another generation of militant extremists.”

The protesters are part of the Swan Island Peace Convergence, which has blockaded the island’s only entrance since September 30, preventing traffic onto the island. It is the fifth consecutive year of protests at the island.###

See online : Green Left Weekly

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