In the middle of suburban Australia is a secret compound that’s labelled ‘degrading’ and ‘inhumane’, with allegations of keeping children prisoner.
Right in the middle of a quiet suburb is a place where children are separated from their parents, and forced to work full time for no pay, and live in squalid conditions.
Those who’ve survived this place say they were brainwashed into believing they could not leave, and that they deserved the shocking treatment dished out.
A young man who escaped the place with the help of his father, Shane Kelsey says “I lived in that garage for about a year and a half, maybe two years.”
Shane is now 21-years-old. Until just over a year ago he had never used the internet, watched television or followed the media.
“You’re not allowed to read any books other than scientology books, you can’t read newspapers, no radio, no movies, nothing,” Shane said.
Shane says he was held captive and groomed to see all of us on the outside as pathetic, useless and stupid.
“So I lived in a garage until that got flooded by a storm, and my mum got really pissed off and said ‘what the hell’ and so I got moved into a closet. It is a closet under the stairs – maybe two metres long and a metre wide,” Shane said.
The true Australian headquarters of the Church of Scientology are located in the Sydney suburb of Dundas. The RPF base – which stands for Rehabilitation Project Force – is where Scientologists are sent for punishment and training, for crimes that most of us would regard as trivial.
More than 50 requests for interviews on camera with representatives from the Church of Scientology have been flatly refused.
The bottom line is they don’t want people to know what’s going on inside the centre, and those who’ve lived in there, like Shane, say it’s like a gulag, or a prison. Yet it’s in the middle of a suburb, which could be any suburb in Australia.
People would he horrified to know what has been going on in there for so many years, and continues to this day. [...]
Peta Obrien, who lived at the RPF base between 1997 and 2000 confirms Shane’s account of the appalling conditions. [...]
Perth-based lawyer Grainne O’Donovan has devoted her time and expertise to helping survivors of the cult seeking justice.
“There’s not a law in New South Wales that makes it illegal to work a child for those hours. That’s extraordinary, but that’s the case,” O’Donovan said.
O’Donovan has also campaigned with the internet-based activist group Anonymous that has raised awareness about Scientology.
“This is degrading and inhumane treatment,’ O’Donovan said.
“At some level they (Scientologists) have become convinced, I suppose, that it’s appropriate, and that the group is more important than the individual,” she said.
RPF bases like the Sydney compound exist in other countries. Those who’ve escaped from them tell similar stories – of having fingers broken on the orders of the leader of Scientology, screamed at, and slapped for twenty hours straight, whilst having cold water poured over their head, and much more.
Independent Federal Senator Nick Xenophon has championed a campaign to shed light on the darkness at the heart of this group.
“Shane’s story is one of shocking abuse, child abuse, it’s one of a child being enslaved,” Senator Xenophon said.
“The authorities need to investigate this urgently. This is something that requires police investigation,” he said.
“What makes this worse is that this organisation is being subsidised by Australian taxpayers because it doesn’t pay any tax.”
Meanwhile Shane has his father back, yet his mother Lesley remains inside Scientology.
Scientology’s response to the report consist of the usual attempts at damage control. The text of the response is posted at part of the Village Voice’s coverage of the report.
Once again, Scientology claims that its horrific programs of control, nearly unpaid hard labor, and years long deprivation are somehow a kind of uplifting spiritual self-help program.
But Seymour’s story about what Senator Xenophon characterizes as child abuse comes just days after one of Scientology’s most respected longtime officials, Debbie Cook, testified in a San Antonio courtroom that church leader David Miscavige subjected about a hundred of the church’s highest executives to years of sadistic, almost unbelievable abuse by locking them in trailers at Scientology’s international base in the desert of Southern California.
Executives held in a kind of bizarre workplace prison. Children worked long hours for little or no pay at only eight years old. Clearly, Scientology’s treatment of its own people is becoming a bigger story than its odd space opera beliefs. And we’ll have more on that Wednesday morning.