'Police violence against Chaelundi protesters'


By Pete Malatesta

CHAELUNDI — The Lismore Greens will send a protest to the NSW ombudsman and Amnesty International alleging the use of excessive force and torture by police against Chaelundi protesters.

Peter Smith, the Lismore Greens' liaison at Chaelundi, alleges he and other protesters were dragged handcuffed from tripods by police in cherry pickers and suspended in mid-air for periods varying from five to 10 minutes.

Smith said the standard procedure used by the Police Rescue Squad to subdue protesters was by twisting the handcuffs onto the bone to cause severe pain, and that he had been punched and had his wrists and fingers repeatedly twisted by the police.

Smith also claimed protesters were locked in police vans for long periods without food, water or medical attention, and some people had to relieve themselves in the vans because the police ignored their requests to use toilet facilities.

"This blatant abuse is contrary to the United Nations Charter of Human Rights, and responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the Greiner government", Smith said.

"We would remind the public that the people at Chaelundi are using their democratic right to protest within the ethics of the Greens' principle of non-violence and disarmament."

Dalian Pugh, spokesperson for the North East Forest Alliance and participant at the Chaelundi protest, said he had seen a number of instances where protesters were treated in the manner described by Smith.

"I would stress that the police were generally well restrained, and I was pleased how helpful some of them have been", said Pugh. "There were some individual police who got carried away."

Superintendent Barry Anthill, the operations commander of the police at Chaelundi, said he was not aware of any complaints by protesters of their treatment by the police, but he would be making inquiries into the allegations.

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