July 17, 2014
for immediate release
IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT IGNORES SUICIDE RISK
‘An 18-year-old Pakastani asylum seeker, Sayed, who has been in psychiatric care for three months is about to be sent back to the Melbourne detention centre where he has made a suicide attempt and carried out serious incidents of self-harm this year,’ said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective.
Sayed arrived as a 17-year-old unaccompanied minor on 25 July 2013.
‘After many months in the Christmas Island and Darwin detention centres, during which time he was already suffering from PTSD, he spent two months in a Brisbane mental health clinic. When he turned 18 in March this year he was sent to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) detention centre,’ Breen added.
‘Three months ago in MITA after not being given his medication and without any access to therapy he again began to self-harm including cutting himself with anything he could find, and ramming his head as hard as possible into the corners of walls, hoping to cave in his skull. He was assigned guards to stay with him in detention wherever he went, including while he slept, and was then transferred to a psychiatric hospital in Richmond where he now resides – still with guards present around the clock.’
According to an Australian friend, Charlotte Sanders, Sayed’s doctor is under constant pressure from the Immigration Department to justify his continued stay in the hospital. On Monday 14 July 2014, Sayed was informed he would be discharged in two days and returned to the detention centre. Sayed broke down in tears and became confused and frightened. He has been given one week extension at the behest of two friends who were former inpatients, but will still be sent back to detention next Wednesday 21 July 2014’
Sayed told Charlotte, ‘The doctors (in the detention centre) do not care about me. They do not care about my medication. If I go back there, I will again suicide. This is my last chance. I will never be “well” to go back to detention. I will suicide. I can never be sent back there. It is my death.’
Charlotte says, ‘This is not a threat from Sayed; he knows he will not receive the treatment he needs in detention – it is simply a statement of a very bleak fact.’
‘When he was 16 years old, Sayed was captured and tortured by Taliban forces outside his home town in Parachinar, Pakistan. He was held for 8 days, during which time he beaten starved and was forced to watch his captors brutally torture and then execute his childhood friend. He has a scar on his back from being beaten, and spent a month in hospital after the ordeal. He has vivid realistic “flashbacks” to this time,’ said Breen.
‘Sayed needs help, not arbitrary detention that puts his life at risk,’ continued Breen. ‘The Immigration Department has no business interfering in doctor-patient relationships.
‘Recently a former senior Immigration official, Greg Lake, accused asylum seeker advocates of encouraging self-harm – without a skerrick of evidence. This is absurd; we find out about self-harm and attempted suicides after the fact and we want them to stop.
‘It is the Immigration Department, by ignoring the well-being of asylum seekers in their care that puts lives at risk. The lack of concern for Sayed’s well-being is symptomatic of the lack of care for the well-being of asylum seekers through the detention network, and the staggering rates of mental illness it produces.
‘Having been alerted to the danger of detention to mental health, the Immigration Department has a duty of care. When someone with a history of self-harm says they are not OK, it is not OK to ignore it. If Greg Lake was truly concerned to prevent self-harm he would join our call to keep Sayed out of detention.’
for more information call Chris Breen on 0403 013 183 for the Refugee Action Collective
attached photos are
1 Sayed’s arm
2 His friend Anna Larsen comforting him, when he told her he was being taken back to detenion (taken by Charlotte Sanders)
Sayed’s friend Charlotte Sanders has started a petition, that Sayed not be sent back to detention,.