IF YOUR tax dollars were being used to bulldoze entire villages and prop up a regime of murder, rape and corruption, would you want to know about it?What if it was happening right on Australia’s doorstep and being kept quiet by our own police so that we could maintain our “stop the boats” immigration policy by sending asylum seekers offshore?These are just some of the astonishing claims levelled by an Australian federal agent turned AFP whistle blower, in an exclusive interview with news.com.au.
The source — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — claims to have witnessed atrocities committed against Papua New Guinea nationals while he was deployed in Lae, in the north of PNG, between December 2013 and July 2014.
He said a “specialised taskforce” was equipped with military weapons and regarded as “the most violent group of them all”.
He alleged the Australian government had ignored official AFP member witness reports of PNG government sanctioned ‘ethnic cleansing’, murder, rape and corruption, because of political interests.
He said Australian taxpayers’ money had fallen into the wrong hands with the “corrupt” PNG government groups using earth moving equipment funded through Department of Foreign Affairs aid programs to carry out some of its crimes.
The source said he saw an entire village flattened by a taskforce using Australia-funded bulldozers in mid-2014; forcibly removing, displacing and killing the villagers who had purchased the land and built homes there some 30 years earlier.
“They just came in to the Butibum village area one day and said ‘the (PNG) government that sold you that land was corrupt and we’re not going to honour those titles … the land is now the (current) government’s’ and gave them eviction notices,” the source said.
“I was there when the next day they turned up with 12 bulldozers that were meant for roadworks, flanked by military officers carrying machineguns.
“The (bulldozers) still had the Australian contractors’ stickers on the side as they bulldozed houses into piles … they bulldozed the whole village; I’m talking 70 houses in Lae.
“They killed some of the villagers who wouldn’t get out of the way.”
The AFP and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade denied any prior knowledge of the alleged incident in the Butibum Village area.
A DFAT spokesman said the Australian Government will provide an estimated $554.5 million in total overseas development assistance to PNG in 2015—16.
“In PNG, in 2014-15, the estimated potential loss from fraud cases amounted to 0.016 per cent of expenditure,” the spokesman said.
“Details of individual cases are not published because they may reveal information that could prejudice continuing fraud investigations or disclosure may contravene the Public Interest Disclosure Act or the Privacy Act.”
AFP members deployed to PNG under the International Deployment Group do not have the power to enforce laws in PNG and are posted purely to act as uniformed “advisory” personnel to local police. There are currently about 70 AFP members deployed in uniform as advisers in publicly visible roles in Port Moresby and Lae to support the reform and police development of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC).
The AFP deployment in PNG is governed by a Subsidiary Arrangement under the Development Cooperation Treaty between Australia and PNG.
News.com.au has obtained documents which our informant claimed were samples of official reporting sitreps produced by various AFP members during the period of his deployment.
The reports told of point blank executions carried out by taskforces on villagers whose only crimes were to “come into town to find work”, mass killings; murder and violence against women deemed to be witches; cannibalism in overcrowded jail cells; kidnappings; police brutality and widespread corruption.
The AFP member told news.com.au he had witnessed mass murder on several occasions and heard countless first-hand accounts of PNG police raping nationals and never being held to account.
The source said he saw men, women and children tortured and killed “for nothing”.
“It’s worse than West Papua,” the source said.
“There’s no other way to describe what they’re doing than ‘ethnic cleansing.
“They just kill anyone who opposes the government.
“The PNG government treats their own people absolutely horrendously, with police murdering people and raping women.”
He said the image of two highlanders who had been shot by a taskforce at point blank range for daring to venture into town in search of a job was forever seared into his memory.
Another two who escaped from the victims’ vehicle were captured, “dragged back” and also killed.
“They were violent and we had to be careful … if we intervened we would have been killed,” he said.
On another occasion, the source claims he saw a child murdered by PNG police.
He provided news.com.au with a copy of the report he says was submitted to the AFP.
“A fire broke out at an electronics warehouse and while there I observed a large group of approximately 2000 locals attempting to loot items from the store,” he said.
“A large RPNGC presence was also at the scene comprising approximately 50 officers.
“I heard the sound of incoming gunfire and saw the RPNGC were firing into the crowd including my position.
“I observed an unarmed male PNG national to run across the road towards the warehouse. At that time I observed two separate RPNGC officers to engage the male with their AR-15 rifles.
“I saw him struck by approximately three rounds in the chest and fall to the ground.
“An RPNGC vehicle then drove over the body, and reversed back so as to hide the body from the crowd.
“Once behind the RPNGC lines I observed them to be firing both into the air and into the crowd. RPNGC requested that we leave the area. At this time for safety we were ordered by our Command to return to our compound, which we did. I continued to hear sporadic gunfire for several hours from the direction of the fire.”
The source said he had provided evidence, including reports and photos, of all the atrocities he claimed to have witnessed to the AFP but that “nothing had been actioned”.
An AFP spokesman confirmed it “did receive a large amount of material from a member in both July 2015 and September 2015 relating to a number of matters during his deployment in PNG”.
“The AFP has reviewed this material and has not identified any matters requiring further action by the AFP,” the spokesman said.
According to the spokesman, “AFP observations of the operations of the RPNGC (were) appropriately collated and regularly raised with the RPNGC senior executive”.
The source said he was one of several AFP members to have made official witness reports to the mission commander but alleged they were ignored to protect the Australian government’s interests in the Manus Island and other projects in PNG.
“All the reporting was sanitised so we could ‘stop the boats’ and vulnerable people could be forced to be resettled in a country that brutally treats its own people — I can’t in good conscience abide by that,” he said.
“We were told by our command to ignore any issues that were political, to turn a blind eye.”
He accused the AFP of “cover up reporting” that “questions the validity of the Pacific solution and the dangers refugees are being placed into to ‘stop the boats’”.
“(The) AFP’s politically induced conduct and not reporting the truth of the situation on the ground in PNG (is covering up information that would otherwise) clearly show it is not a safe place for vulnerable persons to be resettled,” he said.
“The understanding was anything we reported that showed the PNG government or PNG police in a bad light would embarrass them and might cause them to remove the operation on Manus Island.”
“We know what’s going on and what they’re doing because AFP police members are reporting it (but) it’s staying in PNG.
“I have all the official reporting saying we witnessed ethnic cleansing, the bulldozing of villages, shooting people, and nothing reported leaving the country.”
The source said “the photos speak for themselves”.
“I hope this goes towards the truth getting out there about what our northern neighbour is getting up to and the politicised nature of the AFP and (DFAT) in dealing with PNG while turning a blind eye to their quite horrendous corruption and brutality,” he said.
“(The reality is) these guys (were) murdering and killing people.
“But the only reporting leaving the country (includes images of) smiling faces and holding hands walking through markets.”
The source said his next step was to lobby senators to push for an inquiry into the matter.