Iranian asylum seekers being intimidated to return

August 20, 2015

Asylum seekers from Iran whose claims for refugee status have been rejected are being intimidated into “voluntary” repatriation. The Australian government does not have an agreement with the Iranian government which will not accept the forced return of those who have fled the country.

A week after a young Iranian woman was transferred by force from the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre to Wickham Point Immigration Centre in Darwin, an Iranian man was moved to a high-security unit within the Manus Island detention centre.

There are clear indications that the government is intent on a campaign to intimidate Iranian asylum seekers to return to Iran voluntarily if they are unsuccessful in their claims for refugee status.

Mojgan Shamaslipoor had lived in the community on Brisbane for two years, attended Yeronga High School and married an Australian resident. In December her application for refugee status was rejected and she was placed in detention in Brisbane. She continued to attend school and was visited daily by her husband Milad Jafari. Her forced transfer to Darwin came days after she had spoken on ABC radio.

More than 500 people attended a rally outside the Commonwealth government offices in Brisbane on August 14 to show support for Shamaslipoor.

Queensland Teachers’ Union members are calling on education minister Christopher Pyne and immigration minister Peter Dutton to immediately return to Brisbane a group of students who have recently been removed to detention from Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation, where they were living while studying at state schools in Brisbane

On August 13, AAP reported that “refugee advocates have accused the immigration department of trying to intimidate asylum seekers after an Iranian man was moved to a high-security unit within Manus Island detention centre.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Ian Rintoul said the 27-year-old man was removed from detention on the afternoon of August 20 by five Papua New Guinea police officers. It’s unlikely the man will be deported because Australia has no arrangement with Iran.

“It seems to me this is a deliberate intimidation attempt. We’re seeing a show of force from the immigration department to try and coerce people to ‘voluntarily’ return to their own countries.

“We do have concerns [authorities] will use intimidation and force to try to get him to sign to say that he will voluntarily leave PNG.”

Rintoul said advocates would seek orders from the PNG Supreme Court on August 24 to restrain the PNG government from removing anyone from the Manus Island detention centre until another legal challenge against the constitutionality of offshore processing is determined.

Photo: Refugee Action Collective Queensland

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