After a refugee at Brisbane’s Immigration facility complained about the staff’s lack of social distancing and protective equipment, he was moved to the high-security area on site.
“Four refugees in immigration detention in Brisbane, Farhad Ramahti, Mehdi, Mehrzad and Adnan are on hunger strike in protest at the apparent punishment of Adnan for his complaints about staff failure to use personal, protective equipment (PPE) and maintain social distancing,” said Chris Breen for the Refugee Action Collective.
“Farhad Rahmati, a refugee currently held in Brisbane’s Immigration Transit Accommodation facility (BITA), after spending six years detained on Manus Island, outlines the reasons for the hunger strike in this video.”
“Today, Farhad is on day five of his hunger strike in protest against the removal of 22-year-old Adnan from BITA’s residential compound to the high-security compound, a place usually reserved for those who have committed serious crimes.”
“Rahmati says that Adnan complained to a Serco manager at lunchtime on Friday, July 31 that kitchen staff were not wearing PPE, and that International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) staff were not wearing masks or practising social distancing. Between 3pm and 4pm that afternoon Adnan was moved to the high-security wing of BITA. Rahmati believes that Adnan was moved to the high-security wing because of his complaints.”
Rahmati says that Adnan complained to a Serco manager at lunchtime on Friday, July 31 that kitchen staff were not wearing PPE, and that International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) staff were not wearing masks or practising social distancing.
“Adnan was only fifteen when Australia forcibly transferred him to the Nauru Regional Processing Centre on the 20/07/2013. He is now 22. He attempted suicide on 20/07/2020, the first day of his eighth year in immigration detention. He should not be held in high-security isolation.”
“Farhad says his ‘next meal will be with Adnan when he is returned to BITA’s residential area’,” continued Breen.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the severity of Australia’s cruel detention regime. Social distancing is impossible in detention centres. Refugees must not be punished for raising safety issues to do with COVID-19. Even if Serco were to deny that moving Adnan was a punishment, there is no good reason to keep an unwell young man in high-security isolation.”
“The Refugee Action Collective calls on the Morrison Coalition government to release of Adnan and all refugees into the community. The Refugee Action Collective also calls on Queensland Premier Palaszczuk to demand the release of the refugees held in her State,” concluded Breen.
As The Big Smoke previously outlined, it has been raised on numerous times that guards in detention facilities and APODs have not been social distancing or wearing masks. And a recent RAC report outlines that Villawood guards are actually prevented from using personal protection equipment (PPE).
Rintoul says his organisation hasn’t been able to get to the bottom of why this is the case. “But we know none of the guards wear gloves,” he confirmed. “This is true right across the hotels and the detention centres. None of the guards wear gloves, masks or protective gear of any kind.”
The RAC spokesperson adds that he knows of cases where guards have tried to take hand sanitiser into a facility, and it’s been confiscated. And while there have been some portable washbasins installed since the onset of COVID, these can often lack soap or even water.
“There are no extra precautions available in those places,” he continued. “We know that some social distancing is possible inside the detention centres – which is not possible in the hotels – but that’s not uniformly the case either.”