Manus asylum seeker bashed with bat
The Manus Island detention centre.

A Salvation Army worker used a bat to bash an asylum seeker during the bloody riot on Manus Island in February that claimed the life of a detainee, witnesses allege.

Security guards also allegedly beat and choked injured asylum seekers while they were in an ambulance being taken for medical treatment.

The claims were made by asylum seekers and contained in a submission from whistleblower migration agent Elizabeth Thompson to a Senate inquiry investigating two nights of violence at the camp on February 16 and 17.

Ms Thompson wrote detainees were “afraid of being murdered in their beds” in the wake of attacks by local police and security guards, and villagers.

The violence left 70 asylum seekers badly injured and Iranian Kurd Reza Berati dead.

Ms Thompson was on the island and accuses Department of Immigration and Border Protection staff of creating an environment that inevitably caused the crisis.

“It is my belief that DIBP manufactured an atmosphere of extreme hostility, suspicion and tension through its actions in the weeks leading up to February 16th and displayed utter disregard for the welfare of injured and traumatised asylum seekers and frontline staff such as interpreters in the immediate aftermath,” she wrote.

Ms Thompson’s submission included eyewitness accounts from asylum seekers.

In a statement drafted by a group of detainees, they said the attackers on February 17 were “aiming to kill” by beating them in the head and demanded cigarettes to stop.

They claimed a local named Joshua, who was employed by the Salvation Army, hit one asylum seeker over the head with a bat.

Other asylum seekers were allegedly beaten in an ambulance while being taken to a medical centre.

A Salvation Army spokesman said it was aware of the allegation involving Joshua but there were conflicting versions of the event.

“Joshua is no longer an employee of The Salvation Army and if he is found to have been involved in any criminal conduct, then that is a matter for the authorities,” he said.

A spokesman for the contractor G4S said it would not comment on allegations because it did not want to pre-empt the inquiries.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that claims that were credible and could be substantiated would be examined.

The West Australian

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