Aussie’s horror locked up in Thailand
ONCE behind bars in a Thai jail you are "no longer considered human", according to an Aussie teacher who was detained for 10 days in Bangkok.
John knows this because his Thai girlfriend, who helped him while he was terrifyingly detained in November, overheard guards at the Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok refer to detainees as "it" instead of he or she.
"They treat them literally like animals," the 29-year-old, who did not want to provide his last name, told news.com.au. "You're no longer considered human once you're in there."
John has shared his story after reading about Claire Licciardo's traumatic time locked up in a women's cell in the same centre last month after she overstayed her visa.
Their stories come as the case of Hakeem Al-Araibi continues, with the footballer facing another 60 days in a Thai jail while Bahrain fights to extradite him from Thailand.
John said the horrific conditions Ms Licciardo described were spot on, if not worse in the men's area.
The Sunshine Coast man said more needed to be done to highlight the inhumane treatment of detainees Thailand seemed to be getting away with.
Ms Licciardo told news.com.au last week that the bone broth served up was not even good enough to give to a dog.
John said it was disgusting, full of only bones and no meat.
The Australian teacher had been living in Thailand for three years, two of those on a tourist visa.
He said in the last year he was teaching English to Chinese students online through an Australian company, and said he was told this was fine because no money was exchanged through Thailand.
But after his neighbour complained, John said he got a knock at the door.
"On the first day there was no problems," he said. "But they came back a few days later and picked me up. When they want it to be a problem, it's a problem.
"They make money from putting people in there."
John said unlike Ms Licciardo who said detainees could buy toilet paper, his cell couldn't.
"We weren't even allowed toilet paper because it clogged up the toilet so they said you just can't use it," he said.
"Some of the people running the cells were actually taking toilet paper off anyone who came in."
John said he was in a cell with 130 men and forced to sleep in a space about 110cm by 40cm.
"They will tell people they've got airconditioning and beds in these cells, that they get food every day," he said.
"My girlfriend bought food for me and it would go missing.
"Someone in my cell was beaten to death the week before I arrived. If you cause trouble in the cells you probably don't come out alive."
He said there was no healthcare for detainees, just a nurse who came once a week with any medicine.
"After that visit they won't do anything and I got sick so I had people feeding me medicine," John said.
"People were worried I was going to die so they helped me until my girlfriend could get medicine to me.
"One man was in an adult diaper - he arrived like that - and he couldn't even stand up by himself but they want the people in detention to look after him too."
'SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONE'
John claims he saw no one from the Australian embassy during his 10 days locked up.
He said his parents contacted the immigration department here to be told his case was not urgent because he was getting help from his girlfriend.
With her help and that of a fellow detainee's, John was able to be released after buying a flight through the centre which cost him double what he should have paid.
He said others like Ms Licciardo unknowingly bought their own tickets which the centre intentionally made them miss, leaving them thousands of dollars out of pocket.
"They don't follow the legal system and our government isn't being hard enough on them," John said.
"They're not putting enough warning in place that the whole legal system is built on corruption. They know what it's like in there."
John said he had attempted to contact the department and human rights organisations to push for more action to be taken.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was aware of the case of an Australian man deported from Thailand in November but could not provide further information because of privacy.
"Like all travellers, Australians are responsible for ensuring they meet the entry and residency requirements of countries they visit," it said.
"The Australian Government cannot intervene on their behalf if they fail to do so."
Consular help can include visits to prisons to monitor welfare, liaison with local authorities regarding the Australian's wellbeing, provision of lists of local lawyers and assistance communicating with family members or nominated contacts.
Consular staff cannot provide legal advice, intervene in legal cases or get Australians out of prison, just as foreign embassy officials cannot do so in Australia.
Smartraveller outlines what to do if an Australian is arrested or detained overseas, and advice for Thailand "specifically warns Australians of the consequences of overstaying their visa".
Prime Minister Scott Morrison sent a letter last month urging Thailand to stop the extradition of Al-Araibi, and soccer governing bodies and human rights activists have urged the country to let him return to Australia.
Al-Araibi was granted refugee status in Australia after fleeing Bahrain. But when he arrived in Thailand for his honeymoon in November, he was detained.
Interpol had issued an international arrest warrant at Bahrain's request - even though such warrants are not supposed to be used on refugees.