May 12, 2005

Ahwazi: Alarm over Ahwazi Asylum Seeker's Treatment in Australia

A 27 year old Ahwazi asylum seeker was forcibly removed from Australia's notorious Baxter detention centre on 9 May
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The British Ahwazi Friendship Society has expressed its alarm over the treatment of a 27 year old Ahwazi asylum seeker, who was forcibly removed from Australia's notorious Baxter detention centre on 9 May.

Refugee advocacy groups in Australia say that the asylum seeker, known as Mojahed, was taken from Baxter in the South Australian desert, where he has been living for five years, in preparation for his deportation to Iran where he faces torture and murder. He is currently being held in Sydney's Villawood detention, where asylum seekers are held before they are sent back to their home countries.

Independent psychologist Richard Balfour has raised serious concerns over the detainee's mental health, stating that the young man is "acutely distressed" and is "threatening self-harm". He said that Mojahed was suicidal when he first assessed him two years ago and repeatedly broke down. It appears the man has not received adequate care for his problems. The claims follow a ruling by a Federal Court judge in Adelaide last year that found the government had breached its duty of care to two Baxter detainees by failing to provide adequate mental health services.

Ten Ahwazis are currently being held in Baxter and several of them are suffering serious mental illnesses. Many of the Ahwazi Baxter prisoners have discovered that members of their families were arrested and injured during the recent Ahwazi uprising in Khuzestan. Many Ahwazis imprisoned by the Australian government could face similar treatment at the hands of the Iranian authorities if they are forced to return.

BAFS spokesman Nasser Ban-Assad said: "The recent events in Khuzestan are an indication of the brutalisation of Ahwazis by the Iranian security services. The situation in the province is worse than ever, with international human rights groups reporting arbitrary arrests, use of lethal force against unarmed civilians and possible torture.

"The Ahwazi asylum seekers being held in Baxter and elsewhere in Australia should be granted refugee status on the grounds that they face persecution and death if they returned.

"We have received reports that the Iranian regime is arming informal militias to carry out assassinations of opposition activists in Khuzestan. Those held in Baxter will no doubt come under suspicion if they are returned to Iran and that is enough to provoke a lethal response from death squads.

"We urge the Australian government to show humanity and compassion for the Ahwazi asylum seekers in its custody and, at the very least, give them the healthcare they require, as directed by the Australian judiciary."

Source: British Ahwazi Friendship Society