I have received an email from a concerned Australian, who provided this account of the treatment of a refugee. This is, unfortunately, a reliable account. I have anonymised it, for obvious reasons:
Amin (not his real name) is a University trained Civil Engineer. He has just concluded a nine week stay at Town XYZ’s Hospital and is now being detained at Hotel XXX once again as from yesterday morning. His detention conditions at the hotel are atrocious. Hotel XXX Brisbane is a one/two/three bedroom facility. Amin is being detained in a one bedroom apartment with two other detainees. The other two male detainees are prisoners, [they are both from other countries and are not asylum seekers]. The prisoners sleep in two single beds in the one bedroom. Amin is sleeping on a bed situated in a hallway next to a table and chairs and a television, in the presence of three Serco officers. There is only one bathroom in the apartment with the entry being only from within the bedroom, therefore Amin is reluctant to use the bathroom at night due to fears of waking the other detainees.
Amin is now handcuffed when he is transferred from the hotel to be returned to the BITA compound at night. When he wishes to smoke at BITA he is handcuffed to walk outside – even though he is taken to a courtyard within the facility which is fully fenced. He has committed no offence – yet he is handcuffed?
Recently Amin received his morning medication at 1.00p.m. whilst at the hotel – medication which amongst others includes the extremely dangerous medication Clozapine 500mg daily. Clozapine must be strictly monitored. This is a period of five hours after which he was administered his morning medication at the hospital which was at 8.00 a.m. He was then administered his night time medication at 6.00p.m. this evening when transferred to the BITA compound. At the hospital he received his night time medication at 8.00p.m. He is very concerned because there was only a period of five hours between the two dosages. Clozapine is a very dangerous drug and must be administered correctly. He is required to have blood taken on a weekly basis for eighteen weeks to ensure that his white blood cell count remains at a normal level and to check the function of his heart.
Amin has requested the use of internet in order to skype with his parents and his two sisters, all of whom remain in Iran. They are an extremely close family and his parents and three sisters are devastated at his situation. Amin has been advised that consideration of this request is not possible until the working work resumes this coming Tuesday. However, because he is being detained with two prisoners Amin is of the belief that this request will be denied. Amin’s only access to the outside world is virtually through me. He was permitted a short telephone call to me yesterday morning from the BITA compound to advise me that he had been transferred from Town XYZ’s Hospital but at that stage was still hoping to be residing within the BITA compound which unfortunately did not happen once again. I have given messages to his sister Sara of his now whereabouts.
The Department of Immigration continue to act against Dr. Z’s recommendations which are for Amin to be released into the community, and if this is not possible, for Amin to remain preferably at the BITA compound, if not BITA then Villawood. There are mental health nurses at BITA who dispense medication. There are no health professionals at Hotel Adina. Amin is only administered medication when it is delivered to the hotel by Serco officers at the change of their shifts. This is an extremely concerning practice considering the known adverse health effects that the drug Clozapine is known to cause, one of which includes death. Dr. Z has warned of these effects and that any patient being administered Clozapine must be closely monitored. Yet the Department of Immigration choose for Amin to be detained as a criminal sleeping in a hallway at a hotel, rather than in the BITA compound where he has access to mental health professionals for medicine dispensation or in the case of an emergency?
Amin is a very proud man, from a very respectable family, and to now be handcuffed is almost too much for him to bear. His dear sister Sara and her husband Hoomen have relocated from Malaysia to live in Australia permanently to be close to Amin in order to support him along with his uncle who has resided in Sydney for over thirty years. Amin’s detention conditions are almost unbearable for his sister and his family. They, as am I, are at a loss to understand why Amin is being treated as a criminal by being handcuffed and detained in a one bedroom apartment with two prisoners whilst he sleeps on a bed in a hallway in front of three officers.
This is the treatment that is forcing Amin, along with his fellow countrymen to consider signing the paperwork to be returned to a country from which they have fled for fear of their uncertain fate at the hands of a dictatorship government. Unfortunately Amin has all but had enough. He is very, very tired. His forearms are so very wasted due to lack of any physical exercise due to almost twelve months in detention and he still carries dangerously excessive weight around his abdomen which on a ‘good day’, he refers to as his seven month old pregnancy with a laugh. He is so very weak and so very mentally exhausted due to the hopelessness of his situation and the unknowing if any future quality of life even exists?
It is hard to know why we think it appropriate or reasonable to treat innocent human beings this way.