A refugee detained by the Australian Government is pleading for his and other refugee families to be temporarily released into the community after almost a year of confinement in a Darwin hotel room.
- Refugees brought to Australia nearly a year ago for medical treatment are still detained in a Darwin hotel
- Other refugees brought to Australia for treatment have been temporarily released into the community
- The Australian Government says it will not comment on the cases of the 15 refugees in Darwin
Iranian man Reza Golmohammadian and his family arrived on Christmas Island as asylum seekers in 2013 and have been held in detention ever since.
His family is now among a group of five refugee families that are being indefinitely detained in a complex adjacent to the Mercure Darwin Airport Resort by the Australian Border Force.
Mr Golmohammadian was flown to Darwin from Nauru in February last year for medical treatment.
But Mr Golmohammadian said the treatment he and other refugees had received had been inadequate — a claim backed by a group of predominantly Darwin-based medical professionals who yesterday wrote to the federal Home Affairs Minister calling for the refugees’ immediate release.
The letter, now signed by 51 medical professionals, said many of the refugees had received limited care and that it had not addressed their ongoing conditions.
“Additionally, there are multiple reports of inadequate living conditions and sanitation that contribute to deteriorating health,” the letter read.
The Federal Government has been accused of moving slowly on refugees’ medical treatment, and there are 15 refugees indefinitely detained by the Australian Government.
However, a spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs said the refugees were “encouraged to finalise their medical treatment so they can continue on their resettlement pathway”.
After nearly 12 months living in a cramped hotel room, Mr Golmohammadian claims his family is succumbing to feelings of hopelessness.
“We have not received much medical attention and we have been locked up for too long,” he told ABC Radio Darwin.
“We are not really OK … nothing has changed for us. We are depressed and frustrated.
“We are not allowed to leave this place except for being escorted out by the security staff for medical appointments, which is not often.”
Mr Golmohammadian said he and his wife were being detained in a roughly 3×3-metre room with bunk beds.
He said health problems meant the couple were unable to climb into the bunk bed, so Mr Golmohammadian slept on the floor.
His two children, a man of 21 and a woman of 32, were detained together in what Mr Golmohammadian said was a similarly small room, with no privacy.
Mr Golmohammadian has joined the pleas of other refugees stuck in limbo who say they are being treated inhumanely and are effectively in prison without committing a crime.
Mr Golmohammadian — a legally recognised refugee — said he knew he would never be able to permanently settle in Australia.
He and his family were awaiting resettlement in a third country.
Mr Golmohammadian urged the Australian Government to grant his and the 14 other Darwin hotel refugees a semblance of freedom via temporary resettlement.
“We just want to be moved out of this detention and be given a flat or an apartment and [temporarily be allowed] in the community while waiting for our resettlement, which is already in process as genuine refugees,” he said.
“We are entitled to freedom of movement. This is a simple right which we even had in Nauru after getting our refugee status.”
Refugee advocates have labelled the Australian Government’s treatment of the 15 Darwin refugees as a “total breach of international law”.
They have also pointed out that indefinitely detaining them is inconsistent with past decisions to temporarily resettle other refugees brought to Australia on medical grounds.
“We need to remember that over the last few years, Australia has brought back over 1,000 people to Australia from Papua New Guinea and Nauru for medical treatment, and the vast majority of those people are living in the community,” said Graham Thom, Amnesty International Australia’s Refugee Coordinator.
“They have been living in the community for years. What’s totally unclear is why these 15 individuals have been stuck in detention. The Government could get them out of confinement tomorrow if they wanted to.”
In January, the Australian Government released dozens of refugees detained in a Melbourne hotel after more than a year in Australia.
Those refugees were brought to Australia for medical care under Australia’s medevac laws that had since been repealed.
“So why are these 15 individuals, these families, still being locked up? It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever even under the strange logic of the Government,” Mr Thom said.
“This is the sort of mental nastiness that just plays on the mind of these families.”
One of the refugees who was released in January from hotel detainment, Mostafa Azimitabar, said walking free was “the most beautiful moment of my life”.
The prospect of a release date for Mr Golmohammadian and his family remains at the discretion of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and the Department of Home Affairs.
A spokesperson from Home Affairs said the department would not be commenting on the case of Mr Golmohammadian’s family.
Thank you for dropping by My Local Pages and seeing this news release involving National and Australian Capital Territory News and updates titled “Darwin hotel refugees plea for community release as doctors lament ‘deteriorating health’ inside confinement”. This story was presented by My Local Pages as part of our Australian news services.
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