Asylum seekers claim ADF use profane language
Asylum seekers who were ''pushed back'' to Indonesia claim Australian navy used profane language dealing with them.PT2M10S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3109r 620 349 January 17, 2014
Australian naval personnel have been accused of behaving improperly towards asylum seekers, and Defence has confirmed it is investigating one of its members over allegedly inappropriate comments made on social media.
A spokeswoman said the Royal Australian Navy was aware that a member had posted inappropriate material, and had begun an internal investigation. ''It would be inappropriate to make further comment about this matter until the assessment and any subsequent investigation is completed,'' she said.
The man under investigation had commented on a friend's Facebook post about asylum seekers. The friend, who claims to be a member of the anti-Islam Australian Defence League, posted on Facebook about asylum seekers whose boat had sunk. The navy member in question wrote, ''I'm about to head out today to deal with these f---ers.''
The navy member has since changed his employment status on social media.
Defence issued new guidelines for the use of social media by its personnel in January last year, including the private use of social media where personnel can be identified as being a Defence employee or member of the Australian Defence Force.
Meanwhile, two Pakistani men on an Australian lifeboat sent back to Indonesia last week have said they were mistreated by navy personnel.
Mir Abbas and Haneef Hussain, both from the war-torn Pakistani area of Gilgit-Baltistan, said they had thought they would die in rough seas on the small orange boat, and that everyone was distressed and vomiting within the enclosed cabin.
Mr Hussain said he had broken one of four windows on the boat and climbed on to the canopy because he felt he would die inside.
He said the navy officers, who had originally taken them from the ocean, then kept them on board HMAS Stuart for two days and had treated them badly. Asked by one man for help for his wife, an officer had said: ''F--- your wife and f--- your mother.''
Mr Abbas said they had asked the asylum seekers why they had come that way.
The men, both members of a Shiite minority, said they had known about Australia's tough policies before they embarked, but that even going to Nauru or Papua New Guinea was preferable to staying to be bombed or shot in their village by Sunni extremists.
Both men were on a boat that sank last year. They were rescued by the Australian navy and returned to Indonesia. They lost the $US4500 they spent on that trip. The attempt last week, which ended in their being returned by lifeboat, had cost them $3500. Australia Defence Force chief David Hurley rejected last week any claims of mistreatment, saying his men and women ''consistently demonstrate great compassion and courage, often at great risk to their own safety''.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has also defended navy personnel. ''[They] conduct their roles with the highest levels of professionalism, integrity and personal courage in extremely trying and challenging circumstances.''
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Saturday she had apologised to her Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa, over revelations Australian ships repeatedly breached Indonesian territorial waters in asylum seeker operations. ''I have contacted him in writing,'' Ms Bishop said. ''I've sent a written apology on behalf of the Australian government and also personally.''
Anger is growing in Indonesia after it was revealed Australian ships repeatedly breached their territorial waters. Australian navy and customs ships are suspected of having crossed Indonesia's 12-nautical-mile limit at least five times in the past month.
In response, Indonesia on Friday said it would step up its own maritime patrols in a move that could heighten the risk of confrontation.
The Jakarta Globe ran a front-page headline thundering ''A Deplorable Act'', and observed: ''In self-defence: Indonesia sends more naval vessels to its southern borders after Australian ships breach Indonesian waters.''
Asked whether she was tiring of apologising to Dr Natalegawa, Ms Bishop said: ''We are in regular communication. We are working together for the shared purpose of ensuring the people smuggling [model] is dismantled but also that the Australia-Indonesia relationship can strengthen. That's our shared purpose.''