Tony Abbott government’s get tough policy to force returns

Rally against the detention of Iranian student Mojgan Shamsalipoor and the Border Force Act in Brisbane on August 8.

More than 100 people attended a rally in Brisbane on August 8, organised by health professionals against the Border Force Act. The Act makes it illegal for health workers working in detention centres to speak out against conditions, risking a 2-year custodial sentence.

The rally’s focus was extended to a protest against the government’s recent attempts to force Iranian asylum seekers to return. Specifically, the rally protested against the sudden forced transfer on August 7 of a young Iranian woman from the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation centre to detention in Darwin. Two families were also transferred.

Of the almost 7000 Iranians who came by boat and have lived in the community on bridging visas, at least 265 have had their refugee claims rejected, and some have already been sent back to detention. The government negotiating with Iran for the return of asylum seekers who have been unsuccessful in their claims for refugee status.

Mojgan Shamsalipoor, who is a member of the persecuted Baha’i religion, had lived in the community in Brisbane for two years since arrival. She married an Australian resident, who had also fled Iran. She was studying for her Year 12 certificate this year.

Her application for refugee status was rejected in December, and she was put in detention in Brisbane. She was permitted to continue studying and visited daily by her husband.

Last week she told ABC radio: "It's very upsetting and hurtful because we're just young and love each other and all our dream was to live together and make our life and be happy."

Days later, with no warning she was transferred to Wickham Point Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin. The Immigration department says that the transfer was for operational reasons and not because she had spoken to the ABC.

Shamsalipoor’s husband, Milad Jafari, joined students, teachers and parents of Yeronga High School at the rally. They are committed to continue the campaign to prevent Shamsalipoor’s forced return to persecution.

A further protest organised by the Queensland Teachers Union will be held on August 14 outside the Commonwealth offices at 1 Eagle Street.

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