Media release 6 December 2016, for immediate release
Don Dale Torture Victim Dylan Voller plans hunger strike over threats of abuse by guards
Dylan Voller, a young Aboriginal man at the centre of the torture scandal in the Don Dale youth detention centre, is threatening a hunger strike over threats of abuse by guards in the Darwin Correctional Centre, says his mother Joanne Voller.
Ms Voller, who has just concluded a visit with her son in Darwin, says Dylan is terrified of what will happen to him if he gives evidence to the current Royal Commission sparked by the Don Dale scandal, which is due to hear his testimony in the coming week.
At least four guards involved in the tear gassing and other incidents of abuse while Dylan was in Don Dale are currently working as guards in the Darwin Correctional Centre and are continually tormenting Dylan. Some have threatened to have him bashed if he speaks out about his treatment.
Dylan continues to be held in prison, despite being eligible for parole since October 2015. His family has consistently called for his release from prison, to allow him to heal from his ordeal and speak freely with the Royal Commission.
Dylan has previously requested a transfer to Alice Springs prison, to be away from his abusers and to be closer to his family. But he told his mother that guards are now making verbal threats that transfer to Alice Springs would increase his chances of getting bashed because of a lack of CCTV facilities in Alice Springs prison.
Dylan’s mother Joanne and sister Kirra were told to remove t-shirts that read “Free Dylan Voller” when they visited him this morning in prison.
Joanne Voller will travel to Sydney on Friday to address a major protest being organised on Human Rights Day, December 10 to press her demands for freedom for her son and the closure of youth prisons.
Ms Voller said:
“I have never seen my son so scared in all of his life. He has said he will start a hunger strike to fight for his own safety. They are saying he may not even be allowed to attend court to speak with the Royal Commission and may have to give evidence via video link, under the eye of his abusers. He is too scared to do this.”
“The government promised change with this Royal Commission, but my son has just been put in further danger. When will this nightmare end”, concluded Ms Voller.
Padraic Gibson from the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at UTS has been assisting the Voller family with a campaign for Dylan’s freedom. Mr Gibson said:
“How can this Royal Commission have any integrity when the NT government is allowing key witnesses to be threatened with violence if they speak the truth? We need to see urgent action from Chief Minister Gunner. He promised a change in approach to corrections, but has refused to even meet with Dylan’s family to discuss his ongoing abuse.”
“Many of these guards should have been sacked long ago for their torture of Aboriginal children. The fact that they remain not only employed, but tasked with guarding Dylan, speaks volumes about the continuing racism and disrespect for Aboriginal lives that characterises the ‘corrections’ system. Dylan must be set free immediately”, concluded Mr Gibson.