REFUGEE RIGHTS ACTION NETWORK MEDIA RELEASE
The Coronial Inquest into the death in custody of Fazel Chegeni Nejad, a Faili Kurd who was detained on Christmas Island at the time of his death, is scheduled to be heard from 30 July – 10 August 2018.
Refugee Rights Action Network WA have called for people to gather outside the Coroner’s Court on the opening day bearing paper cranes. Fazel used to spend countless hours folding paper cranes for the happiness of others, which his visitors would then take to people in hospital, aged and hospice care on his behalf. Following Fazel’s death, people in detention and in the community folded paper cranes to honour his memory.
Fazel Chegeni had been held in immigration detention for over 4 years at the time of his death. He was found to be owed protection in early 2012 but remained in detention after being charged for a minor incident while he was detained at Curtin IDC in 2011. As someone who could not be refouled to Iran, the punitively applied ‘character test’ meant that he was denied a visa and effectively sentenced to indefinite detention. His medical files document the deterioration of his mental health and decreasing ability to cope in the detention environment. There are people currently detained by the Department of Home Affairs whose circumstances are not dissimilar to Fazel’s, this includes an Iranian man who is currently detained at the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre who has commenced a hunger strike after entering his 6th year in detention.
In December 2015 it was reported that Fazel’s body was found in bushland outside of the Christmas Island Detention Centre. This Inquest will examine the manner and cause of Fazel’s death.
Michelle Bui from RRAN WA stated, ‘In many cases, Coronial Inquests of people who have died in custody or while subject to Australia’s punitive immigration policies result in no recommendations or if recommendations are made, they are not implemented. Fazel was not the first nor last person to die under the system of mandatory detention. We hope the Coroner will carefully examine the systemic issues involved in his case and the context in which Fazel found himself in detention for such a prolonged period. We believe the best way to prevent deaths in custody is to end mandatory detention.’
Fazel’s death was a predictable outcome of policies and systems that devalue and dispose of human lives. People gathering to bear witness to the court proceedings call for Justice for Fazel which necessitates an end to mandatory detention and the suite of punitive policies that target refugees, people seeking asylum and increasingly people who do not hold Citizenship, some of whom have lived in Australia for much of their lives.
She continues, ‘The inquest findings into the death of Hamid Khazaei who had been detained by the Australian government on Manus Island are due to be handed down as Fazel Chegeni’s inquest begins. Earlier this month the inquest into the death in custody of Dunghutti man David Dungay Jr who died in Long Bay jail – just weeks after Fazel – began and has already revealed accounts of brutal treatment at the hands of prison officers. We believe the pattern of deaths in police and prison custody as well as in immigration detention signals that there are serious systemic issues across these institutions that must be addressed.’
When: Monday 30 July from 8:15am
Where: Perth Coroner’s Court at Central Law Courts (501 Hay Street, Perth)
Contact: Michelle Bui, at court (0412 860 168), Sally Thompson, off-site (0409 720 804)
Click ‘going’ on the Facebook Event here
On the 19th of July 2013, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that all people seeking asylum who arrived in Australia by boat would not be resettled here. Five years on, and hundreds of people who sought Australia’s protection remain exiled in limbo on Nauru and Manus Island in PNG.
The policy was enacted arbitrarily and about a third of people who arrived by boat after this date were never sent offshore. Boat-mates were divided between Christmas Island, Manus Island and Nauru. Most people who remained on Christmas Island were eventually released into the community on a bridging visa and invited to apply for a TPV or SHEV. Some people from this group, however are still in detention on Christmas Island and elsewhere or living in limbo in the community.
This July marks 5 years too many. It marks 5 years in limbo, 5 years of abuse and 5 years without safety, particularly for those who are still in PNG and Nauru without any clear pathway to protection.
We call on the Coalition Government and the Labor party to immediately evacuate people offshore to Australia while permanent resettlement options are finalised and facilitated.
We call on the Coalition Government and the Labor party to immediately evacuate people to Australia while permanent resettlement options are finalised and facilitated.
Since 2014, the Australian government have killed 12 people by the policy of off-shoring refugees.
We echo calls of people held on these remote islands to #BringThemHere or #LetThemGo.
“Recording the moment is a photographer’s job. Here in Manus, we need some beautiful, transient distractions to help us tolerate continuous tortures…Those pictures are beautiful landscapes for you, but for me, they are just different corners of my prison.”
Photo prints from the ‘Beautifully Suffered’ exhibition launched last night in Perth are now available to order online here. Please jump on and order a print or two to support the artist, who is still in exile on Manus Island. You can hear Kaaveh speak at the opening here. Article published in the Perth Voice below:
Thanks to everyone who made it to the Perth premiere screening of ‘Chauka Please Tell Us the Time’ this week. We had a great turnout with an almost full house! We appreciate your support and are glad that so many people got to see this very important film. A special thanks to the co-director Behrouz Boochani for joining us live from Manus Island for discussion, following the film.
Unfortunately there won’t be any further cinema screenings in Perth however the film is now available online to rent on Vimeo!
See link here.
WHEN: 20 June (Wednesday) from 7pm
WHERE: City Arts Space (Corner of James St/Lake St, Northbridge)
An artist / photographer from Iran has been suffering island imprisonment in Manus since 2013. “Kaaveh Maleknia” hasn’t lost his skills but something has changed in him forever. Visit his first photo exhibition of Manus Island’s landscapes and hear him speak about his work, while he is still locked up.
Photo prints will be available to purchase/order. Funds raised will be sent back to support “Kaaveh” while he remains in limbo on the island.
We acknowledge that this exhibition will take place on the land of the Whadjuk Nyoongar people and pay our respects to Elders past, present and future. Sovereignty was never ceded. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.
WHEN: 22 June, 6:30pm
WHERE: Saga Bookshop (203 South Terrace, South Fremantle)
Mohammad Ali Maleki is a poet originally from Iran. He has been writing from within Australia’s prison camp in Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, over the past two years. Mansour Shoshtari, also exiled to Manus, works closely with Mohammad to translate his work from Farsi to English. Mohammad’s poems have been published in Verity La., Blue Pepper, Rochford Street Review and was shortlisted for the Red Room Company’s New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016. His poems were performed in Writing Through Fences’ bilingual show Through The Moon at the 2017 Queensland Poetry Festival. A chapbook of his work titled Truth in the Cage (ed. Michelle Seminara), is to be released later in 2018.
Mohammad previously worked as a tailor and film/theatre set builder. In Manus prison he built a garden and much of his writing has grown with the life-sustaining practice of gardening. The Strong Sunflower was one of the first pieces that Mohammad wrote. It was sent to Rose Ertler, and visual artists were invited to respond to Mohammad’s poem.
Refugee Rights Action Network are hosting the Perth launch of ‘The Strong Sunflower’ (published by Writing Through Fences) with the generous support of Saga Bookshop and Mums 4 Refugees.
Mohammad Ali Maleki remains exiled on Manus and as a result of government policies is unable to be present at the launch. Instead, we will be facilitating a reverse-signing of his book to send to him so that he knows the Perth/Freo community are celebrating this achievement with him.
The venue is kid friendly (toys available for little ones) and wheelchair accessible. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome.
Salim was a man who had suffered from epilepsy for a prolonged period. He was transferred between Manus and Australia for medical treatment on multiple occasions however in recent years pleas for medical attention went unheeded. Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist and prisoner exiled to Manus and then Lorengau provided the following analysis, reported in the Guardian, “Salim and many others were driven to death by the application of systematic torture. The death of Salim is the outcome of organised tactics of violence that involve a chain of command and administrative procedures. These are deaths ordered by political actors and a government that knows what it is doing; strategic manoeuvres designed to eliminate people incarcerated on Manus in the most violent way.”
During the October protests on Manus last year, Salim could often be seen bearing flowers. One of Salim’s friends once asked him about why he protested with flowers and he responded simply “They give me pain but I will give them flowers until they are ashamed.”
Today a group of people occupied the Perth Immigration Department Office for two hours, making paper flowers to peacefully protest the ongoing state sanctioned violence against refugees. Flower bearers called for an end to the intentional killing of refugees offshore in the name of ‘deterrence’ and ask that Manus and Nauru be evacuated immediately and people brought to safety in Australia while permanent resettlement options are finalised and facilitated.
Following Salim’s death, Mohammad Imran, a fellow Rohingya refugee, writer and human rights defender held in Lorengau wrote, “I recall telling the security guards on hundreds of occasions that he would die here if he did not receive the proper treatment for his epilepsy. He had been through hell for five years and all we could do was watch him suffer and call the security guards to take him to the hospital in the hope he would receive effective treatment.
I wonder if the authorities are feeling triumphant tonight, knowing there is one less innocent to be concerned about, although as they have not shown any compassion in all these years, I doubt they will even acknowledge his death.”
Today in Perth, we channel and remember Salim’s peaceful resistance against violence and deliver flowers to DIBP in his name. Flower bearers stand in solidarity with the human rights defenders on Manus. We reinforce the point raised by several men held on the island that more deaths should be expected if the government does not take urgent action. We ask ‘how many more deaths will the Australian government and people accept?’ We call for an end to deaths by policy.
This year, three Coronial Inquests of people who died while in the custody of the Immigration Department are scheduled to be held in Perth. RRAN hopes that the Coroner will examine the systemic issues involved in each of these cases. None of these three men were the first nor last people to die in immigration detention. RRAN calls for an end to deaths by policy. Indefinite detention is a punitive measure where death is a predictable and intentional outcome. The only way to stop deaths in custody is to dismantle the system itself.
FAZEL CHEGENI NEJAD
Listed for hearing 30 July – 10 August 2018
Adjourned: Call Over 1 June 2018 at 9.30am
Listed for hearing 9-11 October 2018
Adjourned: Call Over 1 June 2018 at 9.30am
MOHAMMAD NASIM NAJAFI
Listed for hearing 6-7 November 2018
Adjourned: Call Over 1 June 2018 at 9.30am
Members of RRAN will be attending the inquest hearings to bear witness to the proceedings. We encourage our supporters to come along.
Details of actions around the inquests will be added and update closer to the dates.
RRAN MeetingsRRAN WA is currently meeting on Mondays from 6.30pm at the Activist Centre, U15/5 Aberdeen Street, Perth (just north of the McIver Train Station). For more details, send us a message via our Contact RRAN WA page, or call/text us on 0412 860 168. Fremantle RRAN meets at 6pm on the first and third Wednesday of each month at The Federal Hotel, 23 William St Fremantle. Contact Fremantle RRAN