Bruno Marevich, a senior naturopath whose entire life is concern for health, was shocked at Gold Coast airport to be suddenly forced to undergo full body scanning and radiation exposure…under threat of instant detention, a fine, possibly jail and then a criminal record if he refused to submit to the new government dictate.
Airport scanning: your body radiated, freedom of choice lost
Bruno Marevich, a senior naturopath whose entire life is concern for health, received a shocking ‘welcome home and happy new year’ from his own Australian Government on 4 January. Transiting Gold Coast airport, he was suddenly forced to undergo full body scanning and radiation exposure…under the threat of instant detention, being fined, possibly jailed and then saddled with a criminal record affecting his right to work and be a director of his own company and professional association.
Here is his cautionary tale for other travelers… and plea for civil liberties to be restored.
- On Wednesday 19th December 2012 my wife, my son Daniel and I flew out of Sydney domestic terminal to Osaka, Japan, with a stop to change planes at the Gold Coast International Airport, for what turned out to be an end of year break consisting of two weeks of very pleasant skiing and sightseeing.
- Our return flight, JQ20 departed OSAKA at 8.50pm Thursday, 3rd of January 2013 and landed at the Gold Coast International Airport at approximately 7.00am Friday 4th January where we were to board our connecting flight to Sydney at 8.50 that morning.
- The process of getting onto the Sydney flight required that we queue up to x-ray the on board carry luggage which we had with us on the flight we just got off from.
- Whilst queuing, we noticed to our surprise that they had installed a body scanning machine next to the x-ray station and every second or third person in the queue was being asked to go through it. We were obviously aware from the news that these had been installed and trial runs were being carried out at some major Airports, but did not know that they had been brought into full operation since or just before our departure from Sydney.
We had seen these scanners several times before, during trips to the United States in the past – my family and myself were asked to undergo body scanning on two or three previous occasions, which we refused.
Choice in the USA
We opted for a pat-down instead which, whilst somewhat uncomfortable and definitely a breach of personal privacy, at least may have helped us avoid any health risks associated with body scanning radiation technology. This is considered by myself and many others to be as yet largely unproven technology from a health and medical aspect, potentially capable of creating long term health risks which may only become obvious after many years and the body scanning of millions of unsuspecting passengers.
The history of medicine and technology are riddled with such examples of drugs and devices which were at first hailed as highly beneficial as well as safe and harmless despite limited experience with their use and which were later recalled and scrapped, normally after having left countless deaths and illnesses with the unsuspecting public. The only sin they had committed which they were being chastised for was blindly accepting the reassurances given by those they had they right to consider as expert, knowledgeable and with the public’s best interest at heart.
- When we finally made it to the x-ray machine, I was asked to step to the side and walk into the body scanner chamber by a lady attendant whose job was to pick the next person dropping their carry-on luggage on the x-ray conveyor belt .
- I politely refused.
- She asked me why and my reply was that I did not wish to risk my health which I spent a lifetime looking after by undergoing a potentially hazardous exposure to radiation which effects are as yet unknown. I also told her that I was a Naturopath and it went against my morals and professional ethics to undergo a procedure which I would normally advise to my patients to avoid if at all possible.
- She replied that the radiation emitted by these body scanners is completely safe and much less than I would be exposed through my mobile phone or on a long flight.
- My response was that I appreciated she had been instructed that these devices were safe but that in fact this could not be proven as the technology had not as yet been tested and evaluated on a large scale over a long period of time.
- I requested for a pat-down instead, just as we have on previous occasions in the US, not as yet aware that this was not an option in Australia.
- She requested again that I enter the body scanning machine and in response I asked to see and talk with her supervisor instead.
- The supervisor was standing nearby and I suspect at this stage must have heard most of the conversation, which despite being calm and civilized, was holding up the queue behind us and generating some interest with passengers and airport staff alike.
No choice in Australia
- In a reasonably polite manner, he told me that I had no option but to go through the body scanner unless I had a medical condition which prevented me from doing so. “Had you told me you had a medical condition I would have let you pass. You can’t change your mind now”
- My reply was that I did not have any known medical conditions but that my decision not to be scanned was nevertheless a medical one on the grounds of prevention. I stated again that I was prepared to be patted down and if necessary I would even remove my clothes entirely in order to avoid being scanned. My wife at this stage reiterated our feelings and principles to the Airport staff who were all gathered around and that I was prepared to allow a full body search if necessary. They must have been knowledgeable authorities on the matter of health and radiation as they all guaranteed my worried wife that the procedure was completely harmless.
Threat of no-fly, detention, fines, imprisonment, criminal record
- He replied that if I refused to be scanned, I could not fly on that day. That I would be detained at the airport and given 24 hours within which to reconsider. If at the end of that, I still refused to be scanned, that they would call the Federal Police. He warned me that this may entail charges, fines and imprisonment which may last a day or even one week or more as well as a future criminal record.
- I requested to speak to a higher authority at the airport and was told that at that hour of the morning there was no one with more authority that I could talk to than him.
- I then requested for evidence in writing that what he has saying was the correct policy and procedure for handling people refusing to be body scanned.
- I was shown letters bound in plastic sleeves with the Australian Government letterhead which I read. They basically stated that the radiation produced by these body scanners was safe (although for someone used to reading and critically appraising scientific writings this meant very little as this paper was obviously intended for the lay person and did not have any references of evidence to back up any of those claims). The document also appeared to fully back up the procedure for dealing with refusers as had been explained to me by the supervisor, ie detention followed by police charges.
- The supervisor then warned me that I had already refused twice to undergo the scanning. That he would now ask for a third and final time for my decision which I had to provide in a minute or so and which he was obliged to do. He prompted me to think very seriously about my reply as if I still refused, the next step was for me to be immediately detained.
- Despite there being no doubt in my mind that it was wrong for me to undergo the body scan from a principle, moral, ethical and health point of view, against my better judgment, I conceded.
Threats extend to my patients next day, my future ability to work
- I had to quickly consider several issues in those few seconds given to me to provide a final answer: the travel disruption for my family, the prospect of being taken away in front of everyone and treated as a terrorist or a common criminal, the effects that potential charges and perhaps imprisonment may have on my long list of patients already relying to see me and seek treatment and relief from their health problems in my clinic from as early as tomorrow morning as well as what this may do to my reputation and perhaps my ability to practice in the future with a criminal record. Big and important considerations.
- I stepped into the machine and as the scanner flicked in front of me as a windscreen wiper on a car’s weather shield irradiating every part of my body with radiation from head to toe. I never wanted for that to happen,
Sickened, abused, angry
I felt sickened, abused and perhaps most importantly angry. Not angry at the Airport staff who don’t really know the effects of what they are doing and are only carrying out to the best of their ability what they are being paid to do, but at myself.
Having been a staunch individualist most of my life, a great believer in self-determination, personal freedom and in supporting everyone’s God given right of choice as long as it does not harm others, I felt I had compromised my deeply held principles. This had not been helped by having to decide after a long sleepless flight, tiredness, confusion and perhaps the deeply ingrained desire in all us to be civil and not go against rules or make life difficult for others. These are the personal moral issues which myself and my family are now left to deal with.
Scan produces false reading: pat-down is needed
The scan by the way produced a false reading, showing some kind of object attached to my right thigh. This required a pat down by the scanner’s operator of that area of my body after all to clearly determine beyond any doubt that there was nothing there, that it was a false reading and alas I was not a terrorist.
- Immediately after that they decided to do an explosives testing on my wife. The security staff tried three (3) times and kept on getting wrong or inconclusive readings. He eventually gave up and let her through.
- We have another overseas trip scheduled in 5 weeks time for which we have booked and paid some six months ago. Who would risk getting scanned a second time or worse still, see their wife or child being forced to do it at the risk of imprisonment?
- Also important, from a health prospective, no one really knows the complete and full effects of this type of energy irradiating our entire body.
- It is well accepted in natural medicine such as acupuncture, homeopathy, traditional eastern medicine and with some current day scientists too that any kind of radiation, even in very small quantities, can have significant health repercussions on the bio-energy patterns of our bodies. For example, homeopathy works on the basis that the weaker the homoeopathic medication, the stronger its effects. That is why a homoeopathic medicine is diluted to the extent that only an electronic imprint or a vibration of the original herb or component now remains in the basic fluid of the medicine.
Whilst criticized by some, thousands of medical doctors all over the world constantly use homoeopathic medicine day in and day out on their patients to resolve issues that in their opinion this very low grade vibrational force can fix better than massive dosage of drugs in some cases. Therefore we should not feel safe and comfortable simply because this device emits ten thousand times less radiation than a mobile phone. It is the frequency of the radiation and how that interferes with our various bodies frequencies at atomic and sub-atomic level which we should be probably worried about and of which we know very little of for sure.
Largely ignorant of radiation effects on the body
All our cells are made up by atomic and sub-atomic particles which science and quantum physics are still discovering. These particles are in constant vibration creating intra-particle relationships which structure our cells, our bodies, our biochemistry and thus our personality…and finally who we are. Interferences in these fields by radiating our entire body, even though considered non penetrating and superficial, could have a multitude of effects on these vibrating particles and thus our body atomic, molecular and cellular and genetic structure. Humans are an ever evolving creation resonating through the perfection of the universe and nature and as much as we think we know, we are largely ignorant of the yet to be discovered roles and purposes of our genes and chromosomes for our future development as a species.
Does the systemic head to toe saturation of foreign particles on people through the airports of the world sound like something we would wish or allow for our children and future generations, simply for the doubtful and unproven value they may have for our security? Are there no other ways of ensuring the travelers’ safety than to radiate every decent, law abiding person, creating yet to be discovered serious problems and loss of personal freedom?
Security is without any doubt an important matter that needs to be taken very seriously but so are our hard fought and slowly gotten civil and personal rights. While I would sincerely advise everyone against body scanning, some will listen and others will not.
The bare minimum should be the option of a pat-down search
I wish to share my experience with as many people as possible in the hope that it may save someone else from having to experience what my family and I went through. I also feel very strongly that we should all expect the Australian Government, as a very minimum, to allow the travelling public the option of being patted-down which is offered as a choice in other parts of the world.
If this does not happen then, those who do not agree with undergoing full body scanning will essentially be imprisoned in Australia, and unable to travel to other countries for pleasure, business or family reasons without running the risk of being turned into criminals. Travelers from other countries coming into and leaving Australia may also be detained or forced to undergo a scanning which many people overseas already object to but are given a choice about in their home country.
There is no choice for this in Australia. Is this the impression of Australia we wish to give to those wanting to visit us? Is this the type of country we want Australia to become? Are we prepared to allow our elected public servants to do this to us? Do you trust their ability of deciding correctly on such a difficult scientific matter which is capable of potentially horrendous consequences?
Personally, my answers are no and intend to actively do all I can to prevent this from happening and maintain our natural rights and civil liberties as well as our freedom of health choice.
My name is Bruno Marevich, 58 years of age, am a Naturopath by profession and work together with my wife Henriette (we celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary whilst in Japan) out of our clinic in Castle Hill, NSW. We own the premises of the Castle Hill clinic where we have been since 2001. For many years before that, we owned a very busy naturopathic practice in Macquarie Street, Sydney.
We have a 28 year old son Daniel who lives with us and works at Westmead Hospital as a nurse and a 31 year old daughter Ann who is now married and is a dentist working out of her own clinic.
In my career I have served for many years on the board of directors of the Complementary Medicine Association (CMA) where I have represented qualified Australian Naturopathic practitioners to health insurance companies, the Australian Government and tertiary educational bodies.
What I personally believe to be my most important contribution to the natural and preventative health cause of Australia however is the drive towards high education standards for Naturopaths with the goal of Naturopaths eventually gaining full Government recognition and registration.
In my life, I have never been charged for the breaking of any laws apart from a traffic infringement more than 10 years ago nor been refused any insurances. I have affiliations with my church which my family attends regularly and I am considered by those who personally know me to be a person with well grounded principles and values. My patients and colleagues consider me knowledgeable, strong and caring. I don’t drink nor smoke, try to live a healthy life and am a firm believer that if I don’t abuse my body it will be there to serve me better as I get older
I strongly believe that governments are there to serve the people and not to build up power for themselves by enslaving society under the ever increasing heavy burden of rigid rules and regulations.
– Bruno Marevich
ND, BHSc (Comp Med)
AUSTRALIAN NATUROPATHICS PTY LTD
Castle Hill, NSW 2154