Concerns increase for re-detained Christmas Island Iranian hunger striker

| December 24, 2015 | Reply

Refugee advocates are growing increasingly concerned for the welfare of an Iranian asylum seeker, Ali Sadaat, detained on Christmas Island. The 21-year-old man has been on hunger strike for 11 days, and his condition is deteriorating.

Ali was just 17 years old when he arrived by boat in Australia on 1 November 2011. Although his claim for asylum was initially rejected, Ali was released into community detention.

imageHe converted to Christianity in December 2012. He had been attending school and living in the community in Sydney.

But Ali is a victim of the draconian ‘code of conduct’ rules which have been used to re-detain scores of asylum seekers for breaching the code even when charges have been dropped or dismissed by the police or the courts.

This Ministerial power allows a form of “double jeopardy” under which asylum seekers may be effectively imprisoned by the Minister even when they are of no interest to the police or the judicial system.

Ali was re-detained in Sydney in late 2013, after police found him on a train with alcohol. He was later fined $700 and given a nine months good behaviour bond.

But for that misdemeanour, the Immigration Department has used its ‘code of conduct’ rules to imprison him for over two years. It is a punishment out of all proportion to any offence he may have committed on the train.

Ali was initially re-detained in Villawood; he was then sent to Darwin in 2014 and was sent to the Christmas Island, around 10 weeks ago.

Despite requests for Ministerial intervention, supported by many Australian citizens and church congregations, Ali has been left in detention. Ali has been now been waiting months for the results of a departmental review of his case.

Despite being involved in on-going legal matters (including one case about his Christian beliefs) which are not due to come before the courts until the middle of 2016 at the earliest, the Immigration Department has refused to issue Ali with a bridging visa that would allow him to live in the community.

“The injustice of Ali’s detention is obvious. There is every reason for Ali to be released. The Minister has the power to intervene in Ali’s case and do the right and sensible thing,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Being re-detained has not only robbed Ali of more than two years of his life; it has robbed him of hope and his mental health. His hunger strike is a desperate plea for justice. The Minister should urgently intervene.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul, 0417 275 713

Category: Press releases

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