Contributed by Ben Wilson
The death of Iranian refugee, 31 year olf Hamed Shamshiripour, at PNG’s Manus Island, has once again put the spotlight on the cruelty and worsening physical conditions being handed out to human beings arriving on our doorstep for help.
Cause of the death is uncertain at the this point of time, although it has been reported that a crime scene has been established. No more detail has been let out yet, due to the deliberate veil of secrecy surrounding what goes on in Australia’s detention centres.
Fellow Iranian refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani, who is also on Manus Island, said the asylum seeker concerned had a long history of mental illness and distress.
He was reportedly jailed following a mental breakdown at the regional processing centre, but was released, only to be found wandering the streets of Lorengau without clothes.
“He was homeless in the street and in a very bad situation,” Mr Boochani said.
“He was very sick for [a] long time but Australia did not provide medical treatment for him.”
Advocacy group Doctors for Refugees said the death was “another preventable tragedy”, and represented the escalating danger for refugees as facilities on the island are progressively closed.
According to witnesses, the victim had been denied hospital treatment. If this is true, it is not the first time someone in detention has been denied and this suggests that both the Australian and PNG authorities are failing to honour their duty of care. Last week was the anniversary of the death of another detainee, Kamil Hussain.
In June a class action seeking damages for almost 2,000 men reached a $70 million settlement, which recognised serious psychological harm and serious physical injuries had been caused between November 2012 and December 2014.
The latest deaths bring bring the total since 2014 to 7 and this shows that despite the class action, nothing has been done to improve the conditions.
Although Manus is being progressively shut down, detainees are facing further deterioration in their conditions. Conditions at Manus have deteriorated so much that detainees have been daily protests. Staff have withdrawn power water and medical services at existing accommodation compounds.
Men have been forced to relocate to a new camp at the nearby East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre, on the outskirts of Manus province’s main town. This is where the latest death occurred.
This is a serious indictment of the Australian government, which has an obligation to treat all those within its custody humanely.
Deliberate neglect, as an excuse to discourage more bout people does not justify cruelty. The rational is false, because it neglects that the reason why people come over in unsafe boats is not because they are going on a holiday on the cheap, but because they feel they are in such a desperate position that they have no other choice.
This sort of policy is for domestic consumption. Refugees have been built into a bogey to scare Australians. Politicians that work so hard to scare their own populations. Much always be suspected of doing to hide other wrongdoing.
It makes Australia’s refugee policy all that more detestable and we are all being tarred with the same brush. It must stop.