Dylan Voller, a young Aboriginal man at the centre of the torture scandal in the Don Dale youth detention centre, is threatening to go on a hunger strike over threats of abuse by guards in the Darwin Correctional Centre.
Joanne Voller, Dylan’s mother, has just visited Dylan and said he is terrified by what might happen to him if he gives evidence to the royal commission sparked by the Don Dale scandal. The commission is due to hear his testimony in the coming week.
“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.”
At least four guards involved in the tear gassing and other abuse while Dylan was in Don Dale are working as guards in the Darwin Correctional Centre and are 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 him to be released from prison, to allow him to heal and speak freely with the royal commission.
Dylan had previously requested a transfer to Alice Springs prison, to be away from his abusers and closer to his family.
He told his mother that some guards are now making threats that if he was to transfer to Alice Springs that would increase his chances of getting bashed because of a lack of CCTV facilities there.
Joanne and Dylan’s sister Kirra were told to remove T-shirts that read “Free Dylan Voller” when they visited him in prison on December 6.
Joanne will address a major protest being organised for Human Rights Day on December 10 in Sydney to press for freedom for her son and for the youth prisons to be closed.
“The government promised change with this royal commission, but my son has just been put in further danger. When will this nightmare end?”, she asked.
Padraic Gibson, from the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at UTS who has been assisting the Voller family, said many of the guards at Don Dale “should be been sacked long ago” for their torture of Aboriginal children.
“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?” he asked.
[The Sydney rally Unite with Aboriginal People's Defense of Human Rights where Joanne Vollar will be speaking is being held on Saturday December 10, starting at 1pm at Customs House at Circular Quay.]