Gay refugee sues the government

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ali Humayun, the queer Pakistani locked up in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, is suing VIDC management and the federal government for negligence of care.

Humayun came to Australia on a student visa, but due to depression fell behind in his studies. The immigration department would not accept the University of Canberra's extension of time for Humayun and placed him on a bridging E visa, which prohibits paid employment. The department later discovered that Humayun was working, in order to survive economically, and placed him in Villawood in January 2005.

In response to Humayun's application for a protection visa, in July 2006 the department acknowledged that he "was abused and that this has led to difficulties adjusting to life as an adult and has been a factor in the problems he has had in achieving satisfactory academic results, leading to the cancellation of his Student Visa". Despite that, Humayun's application was refused.

In January, psychologist Paula Farrugia noted in a report, "Mr Humayun is currently suffering from a chronic major depression disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder", and recommended that Humayun "be released from immigration detention, at the earliest possible time".

After attempting suicide, Humayun spent two weeks in the psychiatric ward of Bankstown Hospital, where he was treated by psychologists and given anti-depressants. On returning to Villawood, Humayun was told that an anonymous letter outlining an escape plan had been given to management and, on that basis, he was placed in maximum security. His counsellor was withdrawn and he was denied his daily regimen of anti-depressant and sleeping tablets.

Placed in a cell with a known heroin user and with no psychological assistance, Humayun became addicted to heroin. He says that some of the guards at Villawood offered to sell him heroin and cannabis.

Humayun has now been on a methadone program for two years. He has lodged a Federal Court appeal to overturn the Refugee Review Tribunal's refusal of his claims for asylum, and is suing for compensation to assist with his ongoing psychological and drug rehabilitation.

For more information, visit Community Action Against Homophobia's "Free Ali Humayun" campaign at http://www.caah.org/refugees/index.htm.

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