‘They grabbed my arms’: The sick refugee deported by Australia | Refugee News

Hector (whose name has been changed for his safety) was removed from Australian immigration detention last year and returned to the country he fled in fear for his life.

He received 1,000 Australian dollars ($715), a few weeks of hotel accommodation and three weeks of medication he needs to stay alive.

He told Al Jazeera what happened in his own words.

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Hector’s story:

The first time they tried to deport me was in 2019.

I had come to Australia by boat six years before because my life was in danger at home.

I asked for protection and they just abused me again and again.

Look – we belong to them. They do whatever they want. Just to prove a point. This is how it works.

They beat the people there to prove a point to others.

Even people are dying inside and nobody knows about it. Nobody cares. Just two, three things in the media, nothing more.

I developed depression in detention, then I got a rare disease called Addison’s disease because of the major depression I had been through – my body no longer produces hormones.

I lost 60 pounds and people dumped me because they thought I was playing games – didn’t want to eat.

Nobody knew about my illness at the time.

Nobody checked me out.

“They beat me up”

In 2019 I was hospitalized for three months with depression and PTSD and a week after I was discharged the authorities tried to force me onto a public plane.

I got up in the seat of the plane and three officers beat me to try to deposit me.

The passengers told them “who cares if it’s your job, don’t touch it”, then the pilot came and told them to get me off the flight.

I was seriously injured in my leg and ribs, but they put me in a cell in the detention center and didn’t provide me with a doctor because they didn’t want to record the incident.

They have cells, special cells, if someone doesn’t obey, they put them there as a punishment.

Eventually, I was taken back to the main center.

Time passed.

They moved me from Melbourne to Sydney to get away from my doctor, all my friends, my girlfriend, my support and everyone else, they sent me there, to break me down further.

Then from early 2020 until December 2020, I was in Sydney. I almost died there, my story was in the media everywhere.

They put a nurse in my room at night for three, four months to take care of me and check whether I was breathing or not.

They took me back to Melbourne in January 2021 and later that year I was finally diagnosed with Addison’s disease.

I started ongoing treatment for depression every month. I was in a clinic in Melbourne, the mental hospital.

I was really sick.

“I thought I was in a nightmare”

Then they stopped everything.

I think it was a Saturday when my lawyer called me and she was like, “Look, I’m shocked and surprised, but they want to deport you.

I could not believe it. I thought I was in a nightmare.

On Tuesday, the government just took me, they ignored the United Nations, they ignored everyone, even my guardian.

Eight security guards came, they are the troublemaker security guards and I was never a troublemaker.

I was outside sitting on a chair with crutches over there, out of my room having coffee, and I asked them “Can I come into my room, pack my things?” They said, “No, no, no.”

Can I call my lawyer?

“No.”

They didn’t give me any rights.

I said okay, because if I refused, I knew they would beat me again.

They grabbed me by the arms and we headed towards the offices. There was a border force officer and he said to me, “Today you are going to be deported.”

After that, they put me on the jet. I was there with the criminals, the 501 [people who have had their visas cancelled on character grounds] who were all handcuffed, and they took me back to my country.

“I’m like a soulless human”

They dropped me there and the police came to pick me up to question me about why I had gone to Australia. And then they just left me on the street.

I had two or three weeks of accommodation, three weeks of medication and 1,000 Australian dollars ($715) in my pocket, all paid for by the Australian government.

I weighed 48 kg and walked with crutches.

I didn’t go to the hotel that the Australian government paid me because there was no service there and I couldn’t walk properly, I had no energy, I needed help.

My friends from Melbourne went on the internet and they found me a house with people who can help me. They’re paying me for a room right now.

I stopped all my medication because I can’t afford it.

There is no specialist in my disease here.

I hope this story helps someone else because for me, I’m gone. I exist today, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.

I’m like a soulless human, nothing hurts me anymore.

The Australian government’s response

Al Jazeera has contacted the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Home Office about Hector’s story.

In response, an ABF spokesperson said the “Australian Border Force (ABF) does not comment on individual cases”.

“The Department welcomes the scrutiny of oversight and oversight bodies and continues to engage with them to ensure that detainees held in immigration detention centers are treated humanely and fairly.”

“ABF’s priority is the health and safety of all inmates and staff,” they said, and “appropriate monitoring, welfare and security measures are in place at all detention centres. immigration detention”.

“Health services for prisoners are broadly comparable to those available within the Australian community under the Australian public health system,” they added.

“The length of time an individual spends in immigration detention depends on a range of factors, including the complexity of their case, the legal proceedings they pursue and whether they voluntarily choose to leave Australia.”

“All detainees can complain to the Department, contracted service providers and a number of external oversight bodies, including the police, about any aspect of their detention.”

“The Migration Act 1958 creates the legal framework which regulates the entry and stay of non-citizens in Australia. Non-nationals without a valid visa who have exhausted all options to legally stay in Australia should leave.

“Under the Migration Act, the ABF must deport an illegal non-citizen as soon as reasonably possible. This can be done through voluntary or involuntary withdrawal when the individual remains involuntary with respect to their withdrawal.

“People removed from Australia are provided with post-removal support assessed against their individual circumstances.”

Martin E. Berry