Grave fears for Iranian hunger striker from Nauru

May 7, 2018
Iranian refugee Nazanin

The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) released this statement on May 7.

* * *

Refugee advocates have serious fears for the welfare of Omid, a 24-year-old Iranian refugee from Nauru, who has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days.

His condition has significantly deteriorated since he was hospitalised a couple of weeks ago. He has reached a critical stage in the hunger strike with growing concerns that he may have already suffered some long-term damage to his health.

“Omid’s hunger strike is an absolute tragedy,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “and the responsibility lies with [immigration minister] Peter Dutton.

“Omid and his family are the victims of three years of abuse and mistreatment — first on Nauru, now in Australia. There is simply no excuse for the way Omid and his family have been treated. There is an urgent need for the Minister to intervene to release Omid.”

Omid is the brother of 26 year-old Iranian refugee Nazanin (pictured), who was raped on Nauru in May 2015.

Despite the advice of doctors and psychiatrists at the time, it took more than three months, until August 2015, for the Immigration Department to bring Nazanin to Australia.

Similarly, despite the prolonged trauma, promises from the Immigration Department and medical advice that Nazazin’s family should be with her, her mother and brother were kept in Nauru.

For months, Nazanin’s brother and mother pleaded with Peter Dutton to allow them to go to Australia to support Nazanin. (One of the pleas that made it to the media can be seen on ABC Lateline here). The stress of the separation took a toll on all the family, but requests to unite the family were denied.

Finally, Nazanin’s brother and mother were brought to Australia from Nauru in January 2016. But they were kept in detention, with Omid separated from his mother and sister. Then, after another 18 months, his mother and sister were released in June 2017, but Omid was kept in the Villawood detention centre.

For almost a year, Omid has been held in Villawood separated from his family.

While hundreds of other refugees brought from Nauru to Australia for medical reasons have been released on community detention or on bridging visas, Nazanin’s brother’s appeals to be released from Villawood, have been ignored.

“The doctors have told us that Omid does not have much time,” Nazanin told the Refugee Action Coalition.

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