Category Archives: Our Press Releases & Documents

Timeline of Events re Omid, Nazanin and their mother

Notes about Nazanin, Omid and their Mother (May – October 2015)
These notes are based on personal conversations with the main parties as well as with medical, legal and other professionals involved in their case.

Please note that the mother of Omid and Nazanin is not referred to by name at her request.

Please note that some information has been held back as the family have experienced threats in relation to releasing some information.

PDF Version


In May 2015, Nazanin, a 23 year-old asylum seeker on day release visited a friend in the Anibare refugee camp on Nauru.

When she did not return by evening guards and her brother 20-year old brother Omid went to search for her.

She was found at about 9pm that night by local police naked, bruised, and with bite marks on her body in a state of shock beside a road outside of the detention camp where she had been living in OPC 3.

The police put her in a car and drove around the island for approximately an hour, ostensibly in order to view some fire works.

It was only after this that Nazanin was then taken to the local police station.

Despite very obvious evidence of sexual and physical violence the police did not register this as an assault.

Nazanin was then taken to the hospital and finally to the IHMS clinic where rape kits were administered and other examinations performed.

Nazanin’s mother and brother were not told that she had been found until midnight that night.

Nazanin remained in the clinic without access to her family for 3 days. This was the longest period that the family had spent apart until then.

Nazanin was moved between the IHMS clinic and OPC 1 accommodation according to her medical state.

She was not given the correct treatment that would be standard for any other rape victim in Australia.

Her health, both physical and mental, deteriorated. Nazanin attempted suicide during this time by cutting the veins on her arms.

Her family were eventually brought to be with her in OPC 1 where Nazanin would sleep either in her mother’s or brother’s arms. She was afraid to leave the tent.

6 weeks after the assault Nazanin was told that she must face her fears so as to prevent what was called ‘avoidant behaviour’. Nazanin was forced out of the tent into the larger camp and, according to sources, outside of the camp.

As a result Nazanin went into further shock. She attempted suicide for the second time after this by ingesting insecticide. She was quickly returned to the IHMS clinic.

At the time that Nazanin ingested the insecticide her mother and brother were lining up at the IHMS clinic for some medication for her mother. Both the mother and brother heard Nazanin scream and ran towards her.

It is reported that Mother was screaming and fainting/falling.

Omid was grabbed by two Australian officers from Wilson’s security, brought down in a manner where his face was smashed into the ground. He was then sat on and cuffed. An eyewitness account of this exists.

The local police were called and Omid was taken to the local police station where he was held without charge for in excess of 30 hours.

During that time he reports locals and guards walking past his cell and pissing through the bars. There was no furniture in the cell. He tried to dry an area on the floor to sleep with his tshirt.

After the suicide attempt by ingesting insecticide, Nazanin stopped talking, eating and drank very little. Her stomach was bleeding. She remained in this trauma response for many weeks. Her kidneys were suffering and she was rehydrated a few times at the IHMS clinic. However she continued to deteriorate.

The family were separated: Omid and his mother were placed in OPC 3 and Nazanin in OPC 1. mother and Omid visited when they were allowed, having to take a long bus trip to the clinic whenever the bus was available. Visits were supervised. Omid and his mother report that Nazanin would say very little aside from ‘Help me’. She would also hold their hands tightly whenever they had to leave, apparently not wanting them to go. Omid and mother report that she was always very scared. Omid met with immigration to ask that the family be kept together, not separated, as it was causing more distress for Nazanin, her mother and Omid. The immigration worker said he would refer the request to his seniors.

Despite the team leader of mental health and the team leader of clinical health, alongside many other workers, petitioning for Nazanin to be brought to Australia this did not happen until approximately 3 months after the initial assault.

It was not until the 20th of August, when her kidneys were failing and she was also at risk of heart failure that Nazanin was medivaced to Australia where she remains in a Brisbane hospital.

Omid and Mother were told by the Senior Medical Officer, just prior to Nazanin being medivaced off the island on Friday, that they would follow Nazanin to Australia to be beside her. They were told there was only enough room for a medical officer and a [Tranfield] guard to accompany Nazanin in the aircraft and that Omid and mother would be flown to Australia. The next day, on Saturday, a nurse from IHMS came to their tent and told themthat they would not be taken to Australia to be with Nazanin.

Omid and mother were not told where Nazanin was or given any information about her condition for 3 days.

Omid initiated a family tracing search through the Red Cross. It was only then that they were informed that Nazanin was in Brisbane.

The Red Cross letter to Omid says that DIBP and IHMS had given assurances that Omid and Mother had been told where Nazanin was, details of her condition and that they had had direct access to her via phone.

Omid and Mother were later told this information and were allowed 2-3 minute phone calls with Nazanin every second day with the number dialed from the IHMS office by an worker.

Mother continued to decline mentally and physically. She has been diagnosed with diabetes and has a ‘stomach problem’ diagnosed since her daughter’s assault.

Omid continued to try to care for his mother who he described as ‘under too much pressure’, as ‘dying’, attempting to ‘hurt herself’, unable to leave the tent and extremely distressed.

Despite Mother’s diagnosed health problems, she has been told by the Wilson guards to ‘act like normal’ and go to the tent herself to get food and join activities.

On the 3rd of October Mother attempted suicide by hanging. This was her fourth suicide attempt. She could no longer bear the separation from her sick daughter.

The next day Mother and Omid were moved to OPC 1 (IHMS compound) and Mother placed on suicide watch with 2-3 guards with her 24/7. She continued to try to hurt herself from time to time. Her mental health declined further and she would scream and cry a lot.

Because of the deteriorating mental condition of both Nazanin and Mother phone calls to Nazanin were stopped by the family as Nazanin was now not speaking but crying and screaming, as was Mother.

On Tuesday 6th October Omid was suicidal. He spoke of being unable to bear the pressure anymore. He became overwhelmed and ate some rocks and stones. He was taken to the IHMS clinic for observation and was on a drip for 4 days. A medical professional attending him said that they were doing all they could to pressure the government to reunite the family in Australia.

During their time in OPC 1 Omid reports that the Team Leader of IHMS Mental Health on Nauru and the Team Leader of Clinical Health on Nauru resigned. Both of them came to mother and Omid and explained they could no longer work because of the way that Nazanin, Omid and Mother were being treated. One of the doctors was a psychologist who had worked with the family for a while and who had worked for IHMS on Nauru for at least 2 years. Sources have told us that she was very distressed by the treatment of this family in particular. The other was the clinical doctor who had been attempting to treat Nazanin whilst pushing for DIBP to bring her to Australia even as his ongoing and persistent recommendations continued to be denied by DIBP.

Appalled by the ordeals that the family have been subject to, many staff have apologised to Omid and mother and said they are doing all they can to pressure the government to be brought to Australia to be with Nazanin.

In Australia, Professor Carolyn Quadrio, a psychiatrist who is to visit Nazanin and do a psychiatric assessment for lawyers Maurice and Blackburn, has had her requests to visit rejected She continues to attempt to visit Nazanin at the request of Nazanin and her family.

Nazanin has now been in Brisbane hospital without her family since August 20th 2015.

All 3 members of this family have attempted suicide multiple times since the assault on Nazanin in May.


The information above has also been reported in the following media reports (and others):

http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/oct/07/nauru-mother-of-alleged-gang-rape-victim-attempts-suicide

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/09/18/asylum-seeker-takes-claims-un-agency

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2015/s4305882.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2015/s4325142.htm

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lanesainty/woman-allegedly-attempts-suicide-on-nauru#.icAKKorzPd

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/nauru-alleged-rape-victims-condition-deteriorates-20150906-gjgd3u.html#ixzz3l37RLOV6

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-05/family-of-iranian-woman-raped-on-nauru-desperate/6827968

Press Release October 4 2015

RESEARCHERS AGAINST PACIFIC BLACK SITES

MEDIA RELEASE

4th October 2015

PDF //Press Release 04/10/2015

This afternoon, Farrah*, an Iranian woman in detention on Nauru attempted suicide by hanging. Farrah is the mother of Nazanin and Omid whose stories have already been covered in the Australian media. Nazanin, is a gravely ill 23 year old receiving treatment for kidney failure in a main- land hospital following her rape and subsequent suicide attempts. Omid is her 20 year-old brother whose cruel and degrading treatment at the hands of camp guards and Nauru police has attracted UN attention.

Farah was no longer able to bear the acute suffering and separation the family has been forced to endure.

At the same time RAPBS has grave fears for Omid who is in a state of deep despair and whose mental health has markedly deteriorated in the last day. He told a friend: ‘I am watching my mother die as I was watching my sister die. Now we are separated. I want to close my eyes and never wake’.

A close guard has been set since on Farrah and Omid making it impossible for them to communicate with each other or with friends.

Dr Helen Driscoll, trauma specialist and consultant adolescent psychiatrist in Juvenile Justice who is familiar with the case notes ‘The fact [is]that Nazanin and each family member is utterly crushed and the only option to ease intolerable suffering is suicide from total despair’ (full statement attached).

She adds that this is an ‘entirely predictable’ state of affairs’ in light of the approach adopted by the IHMS in dealing with the case of Nazanin and her family: ‘IHMS refers to the problem of ‘avoidance’ developing if people are moved from the site of their trauma! The fallout for this family is tragically entirely predicable and I hold IHMS and the DIBP totally responsible for their continued suffering and their pending demise’.

In an Open Letter calling for the shutdown of the offshore detention centres, Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year states, ‘The people forcibly held there are those who sought protection in this country. They deserve care, not punishment’.

The conditions on Nauru are punitive, dangerous and destructive of the refugees’ very will to live.

Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites calls for the family of Nazanin to be brought to Australia immediately for their safety and protection, a promise made to them when their Nazanin was airlifted to Australia several weeks ago.

* Farrah – not real name

Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites
Media Contacts:
Professor Suvendrini Perera: 0409 747 200 Janet Galbraith: 0418 399 646 Dr Helen Driscoll: 0403 364 486

Open Letter – Thank-you

The open letter to the PM has now closed.

We thank each of the 1272 individuals and organisations who participated in this campaign. Your support has meant a great deal to the people subjected to the routinised and systematic violence in Australia’s Pacific Black Sites.

RAPBS sent the letter to the Prime Minister and other key parliamentarians on October 2, 2015. You can view the PDF Version here. We have been very encouraged by the media coverage of our letter, and by the fact that a number of other open letters and media reports have followed in the days after we began our Out of Sight NOT Out of Mind campaign. We’re just getting started! Watch this site and our Facebook page for further updates.

We encourage those of you who were not able to sign the letter to contact your local MP as as well as the Prime Minister and Immigration Minister direct.

Thank you again for standing against the inhumane, cruel and degrading policy of offshore detention.

Link to the open letter

Press Release October 1 2015

RESEARCHERS AGAINST PACIFIC BLACK SITES

MEDIA RELEASE

1st October 2015

PDF // Press Release 01/10/2015

Violence against women organisations join refugee advocates in call for detention centres closedown

Significant Australian violence prevention organisations have called on the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to shut down Australia’s Manus Island and Nauru detention centres.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Turnbull, the Out of Sight NOT Out of Mind campaign initiated by Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites points to the ‘systemic and structural nature of the conditions that generate violence against women, children, gay men and families’ in offshore detention as ‘the outcome of Australian’s policy of ‘deterrence.’

The letter has been signed by over a thousand organisations and individuals, including the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance, Victorian Forum of Centres Against Sexual Assault, the Luke Batty Foundation, state and national peak bodies for community legal centres, ACOSS, Immigrant Women Speakout and Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria.

The letter states:

‘Feminists, women’s groups and others working against violence against women, children and LGBTIQ peoples all too often work in isolation from refugees and their supporters. We want this separation to end.’

Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty is also quoted in the letter: ‘Those of us who care about violence against women, children and other vulnerable people at home need to care about what happens to these same people elsewhere who are under our care.’

The united stand by some of Australia’s most respected social organisations is an indication of the growing public revulsion at the violence and trauma to asylum seekers reported on Nauru and PNG.

Professor Suvendrini Perera for Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites said: ‘Recent events show that the line between “deterrence” and the systemic infliction of violence and trauma on detained people is thoroughly blurred. Our government has recently condemned violence against women domestically, but if is truly committed, it should act to the end the same kinds of violence being perpetrated in Australia’s name abroad.’

Contacts: RAPBS Spokeswomen: Professor Suvendrini Perera, Curtin University: 0409 747 200 & Janet Galbraith 0418 399 646;
Senior Policy Advisor Federation of Community Legal Centres Dr Chris Atmore: 0425 796 434
Trauma Specialist : Dr Helen Driscoll MBBS FRANZC c/ RAPBS 0418 399 646

Press Release September 18 2015

RESEARCHERS AGAINST PACIFIC BLACK SITES

PRESS RELEASE

18th September 2015

PDF // Press Release 18/09/2015

‘As if they had arrested a criminal from Daesh group’, is how one witness described the harsh, cruel, degrading and inhumane punishment meted out to a 20 year old asylum seeker on Nauru.

This episode is the latest in the shocking brutalisation of one family on Nauru.

The young man is the brother of Nazanin, a 23 year old woman allegedly raped on Nauru in May. Following the alleged rape the woman tried to kill herself twice. Although critically ill for weeks, it was not until she was on the verge of organ failure that she was finally medivaced, alone, to Australia.

On the day of Nazanin’s second suicide attempt, her brother heard her scream and ran toward her. After being pinned down by two Australian officials, the young asylum seeker was then taken by Nauruan police and imprisoned in a cell for more than 30 hours where, he reported, ‘passers by, including guards, urinated through the bars’.

The young asylum seeker and his ill mother remain in Nauru separated from the sister.

This instance is not isolated but is part of the systematic degradation and violence, especially sexual violence, meted out to detainees in Nauru and Manus Island.

As this media release goes out, reports are emerging of another brutal rape of a refugee on Nauru.

Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites has previously called attention to the harsh, cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment, tantamount to torture, enacted in the black sites that are Australia’s off-shore immigration detention centres.

As Australia prepares to welcome refugees from Syria and to stake its claim as a good global citizen, we call on our new Prime Minister to attend to the asylum seekers we have incarcerated off-shore though they are not accused of any crime.

In a letter congratulating Mr Turnbull, men detained on Manus Island write, ‘We are happy for them [those fleeing Syria] as they welcome, because we know the pain of them and understand them more than others’. They ask the Prime Minister to ‘bring back the taste of freedom and living to us’.

Another 20 year old Syrian man detained on Manus Island for 27 months told Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites that he too was beaten and imprisoned. ‘We are Alive Aylan. But I have been suffering for more than 2 years in worst living conditions. No one sees our pain. We are right here in Manus. We are dying here’.

Immediately after assuming the role of Prime Minister elect, Mr Turnbull pledged to run ‘a thoroughly liberal government’.

How long can a government pledged to liberal principles countenance the harsh, cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment of people under their care?

Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites call on Prime Minister Turnbull to rise to the challenge of ending the cruel and degrading conditions for asylum seekers and refugees in offhshore detention.

Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites: Professor Suvendrini Perera, Professor Joseph Pugliese, Janet Galbraith

Media Contact: Janet Galbraith 0418399646.

Remember those slowly dying of Australia’s Deterrence Policy

RESEARCHERS AGAINST PACIFIC BLACK SITES

PRESS RELEASE

PDF File // Press Release 07/09/2015

‘After the incidents in Europe and their help to refugees why Australian immigration will not even help one girl’.

These are the words of Nazanin’s 20 year old brother, desperate for her to remain in Australia and receive the medical ttreatment that she needs.  Under current policy, and according to all indications, Nazanin will be returned to Nauru as soon as she is deemed physically well enough to travel.

The current wide spread concern for refugees drowning in the ocean must not be divorced from the slow deaths and tortures that refugees are experiencing in Australian run detention centres.  A writer detained for 26 months on Manus Island has written a letter stating: ‘I wish I too had died in the ocean’.

Poet Kaveh Arya released a poem on facebook following the circulation of images of the young Kurdish boy Aylan Kurdi who had drowned whilst seeking asylum with his family.  The final line of the poem being:  ‘we love dead children more’.

Natasha Blucher, former STC worker on Nauru reminds us in a letter published in the NT Times that we must also  ‘[g]rieve for the 110 children in detention in Australia, who are not dead but are still becoming lifeless’.

While we indulge in grief and sorrow for the beautiful boy lost on the shores of Europe, we cannot allow ourselves to forget that children, men and women who have are being punished in our deterrent detention camps for making precisely the same voyage by boat to our shores.

Nazanin and her remaining family made that voyage.  Nazanin is also someone’s child.  Her mother is grieving the rape and subsequent trauma that Nazanin has suffered under the watch of the Australian government and the unbearable separation she is forced to endure as she remains detained in Nauru with little access to information on how her daughter is, whilst always aware that Nazanin could be returned at any moment.

‘If Nazanin comes back she will die.  We know she will kill herself.   We have watched for long time how scared she is.  There is no safe place here.  She needs to be in safe place’, says her family.

Trauma Specialist Dr Helen Driscoll reiterates this: ‘To return Nazanin to Nauru violates every foundation imperative in clinical and human responses to her life threatening trauma and consequent impact . .. To return her is dooming her to die. No ethical clinician in the field of trauma would support a return to Nauru’

Researchers Against Black Sites calls on the people of Australia to demand that Nazanin is not returned to Nauru and that her mother and brother are brought to Australia to be with her.

We call on all involved in the GetUp Light the Dark Vigils to remember this family and take action.

We also call on all present at the GetUp Light the Dark Vigils to remember all those held in Australian run detention centres in Manus Island and Nauru.

Researchers for Pacific Black Sites: Professor Suvendrini Perera, Professor Joseph Pugliese, Janet Galbraith
Consultant: Dr Helen Driscoll.
Media Contact: Janet Galbraith

‘This is not treatment for Trauma, this is Abuse’, says trauma specialist

RESEARCHERS AGAINST PACIFIC BLACK SITES

PRESS RELEASE

PDF File // Press Release 05/09/2015

Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites believe that it is imperative that rape victim and asylum seeker Nazanin’s mother and brother are brought immediately to Australia to be with her.

Not only has Nazanin been subject to cruel treatment since she was assaulted and raped on Nauru in May, but Nazanin’s family have also been subject to inordinate pressure with her twenty year old brother being beaten, and jailed for 36 hours without charge.

On the day of Nazanin’s second suicide attempt he was grabbed and assaulted by guards, cuffed and forced to spend those 36 hours in a Nauru prison cell wet with piss.

The family have been too afraid to speak of much of the pressure they have been under for fear that it would affect Nazanin’s treatment, however, media attention and the visit today of the UN to Nauru have made them feel more secure.

Internationally recognised psychiatrist and trauma specialist Dr Helen Driscoll MBBS FRANZCP:

‘The fact that it is necessary to defend the absolute imperative for a victim of violent rape to have safety, dignity, close family and cultural support and connectedness, is profoundly shocking.

The fact that Nazanin’s perpetrator/s have not been apprehended, and her brother and family have been taunted and abused on this small island, and the fact that they remain in the captivity  and at the mercy of a secret system is mind-blowing to me as a specialist clinician.

It is analogous to patching up the victims of severe family violence, discharging them under escort from hospital and placing them back into the violent ‘home’.

This is not treatment for trauma this is abuse.’

Following Radio National report, permission to visit Nazanin has been granted to two people.

Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites hold the Commonwealth Government of Australia and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection responsible for the wellbeing of Nazanin’s family on Nauru should there be any repercussions because of their speaking out.  We hold the Commonwealth Government of Australia and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection responsible for the wellbeing of Nazanin.

Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites: Professor Suvendrini Perera, Professor Joseph Pugliese, Janet Galbraith
Consultant: Dr Helen Driscoll
Media Contact: Janet Galbraith 041839964

Psychiatrist Warns of Risk to Raped Asylum Seeker and Family

RESEARCHERS AGAINST PACIFIC BLACK SITES

PRESS RELEASE

PDF File // Press Release Nazanin Fina lRABS

Nazanin, a 23 year-old asylum seeker detained on Nauru was airlifted to Australia on August 20th , on the point of kidney failure. Following two failed suicide attempts (by slashing her wrists and by ingesting insecticide), she had refused all food and water until she relapsed into a catatonic state and was at risk of cardiac arrest.

Why did Nazanin want to kill herself so badly?

In May she was  raped, a brutal attack that left her severely physically, emotionally and psychologically traumatised. The fact of her rape was belatedly confirmed by Nauru police, who, after three months are no closer to bringing any offender to trial.

Researchers Against Pacific Black Sites is concerned that in the 14 days since Nazanin’s arrival in Australia there has been no information imparted as to her condition.  Independent visitors, lawyers, advocates and medical doctors – who have received a signed request from Nazanin to review her medical records – have all been frustrated in their attempts to access Nazanin.  This isolation has caused huge distress to her family and raises fears that Nazanin will be returned to Nauru, as per current policy,  as soon as she is deemed physically able to travel.

The isolation of Nazanin has been a constant since she was assaulted. Following Nazanin’s rape, she was not taken to hospital, but to Nauru police station.  It was days after that her family were allowed to see her for short periods, accompanied by many guards. Nazanin was moved back and forth between Nauru hospital, IHMS Clinic and OPC 1 in the 3 months following the rape. Nazanin’s family tell us that during that time she was subject to taunting about her rape by guards when made to walk to the clinic in order to receive medication for her tormented mental condition.

The IHMS mental health team is also said to have insisted that it would be ‘therapeutic’ to force Nazanin to leave the tent and the camp to overcome her ‘avoidance behaviour’.Internationally recognised psychiatrist and trauma specialist Dr Helen Driscoll MBBS FRANZCP, raises concerns about her treatment: ‘Physical and psychological safety is the first imperative in the treatment of trauma.  Establishing personal control is the next imperative, when control has been so violently taken away. The context for treatment is dignity and connectedness with caring family and social support.

Since her arrival in Australia, at an undisclosed location, Nazanin has had no access to a lawyer or to any other visitor. Not only has she been denied the necessary comfort of her mother and brother, but her family has been subject to high levels of harassment and Nazanin’s mother has developed diabetes.

We write this media release as information comes to hand that raises fears that Nazanin is to be returned to Nauru.  ‘To return Nazanin to Nauru violates every foundation imperative in clinical and human responses to her life threatening trauma and consequent impact . .. To return her is dooming her to die. No ethical clinician in the field of trauma would support a return to Nauru’, says Dr Driscoll.

We therefore urgently call on the Minister not to return Nazanin to Nauru and to reunite her with her mother and brother who are both at serious risk on Nauru.

We call on all political, community and religious leaders to urgently seek the protection of  Nazanin and her family.

We call on all members of the Australian community to make your voices heard and refuse the brutality that is being permitted in our name.

RAPBS: Professor Suvendrini Perera, Professor Joseph Pugliese, Janet Galbraith.

MEDIA CONTACT: Janet Galbraith 0418 399 646