July 25, 2016
A woman from Iran who was locked up in immigration detention after her Australian visa application was refused did not mention she was repeatedly raped by her family or forced to marry a 60-year-old when pleading her case.
Mojgan Shamsalipoor was 18-years-old when she escaped an arranged marriage to a 60-year-old man in Iran and travelled to Australia by boat in the hopes of seeking asylum in 2012.
She applied for protection as a refugee and was released into community detention in Brisbane where she pursued an education and met her husband Milad Jafari – an Iranian refugee who was granted permanent resident protection in 2012 after spending two years in Australia.
Ms Shamsalipoor said she was repeatedly raped and abused by family members in Iran and fears persecution if she was deported but lawyer Kevin Kadirgamar said the aspiring midwife did not initially include the ‘compelling’ allegations in her protection visa application and she was denied.
‘She did not talk about her rape or sexual abuse. We then went about formulating a submission explaining to the minister what a compelling and compassionate case this was,’ he added.
Ms Shamsalipoor’s story has received a significant amount of attention since her return to detention, with the local community rallying around the young woman so she could continue to attend classes.
The asylum seeker’s teachers at Yeronga State High School were inspired by her determination to continue learning and organised for her to continue studying by day release while she was being detained at the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA).
They said she continued to excel in her studies, despite facing routine searches and requiring an armed guard to escort her to school.
She completed her Year 12 certificate but did not get to attend her graduation as she was taken to Darwin’s Wickham Point Detention Centre in August when the government decided to force rejected Iranian asylum seekers back into custody if they refused to return home, the ABC reported.
Mr Jafari, also from Iran, said he was not allowed to hold his wife without being hassled by guards on the rare occasion he got the opportunity to visit her in Darwin.
‘There is a guard in the corner, sitting, watching us. The first thing they said, ‘you cannot hug inside the facility, you cannot touch each other that much, you cannot kiss’,’ Mr Jafari told Australian Story.
‘I hugged her and I wasn’t allowed but I just tried to hug her very deeply and very hard and the guard was saying, ‘that’s it, that’s it’ and I couldn’t stop hugging her.’
Ms Shamsalipoor was returned to BITA in May when the Darwin centre closed but Mr Jafari said contacting or seeing his wife is still extremely difficult as visiting times are often changed with no notice and there is only one phone, the ABC reported.
Ms Shamsalipoor and Mr Jafari met at a Baha’i youth camp and married in October 2014 however asylum seekers are not permitted to apply for partner visas.
Legal experts told Ms Shamsalipoor to return to Iran so her husband can apply for a partnership visa however her mother has warned her it is not safe for her to come home, the Guardian reported.
Ms Shamsalipoor’s classmates and teachers have continued to support the Iranian’s plight to stay in the country, with hundreds showing up to protests calling for her immediate release.
Deputy principal Jessica Walker said the community will ‘not give up the fight’ until Ms Shamsalipoor is freed.
‘We’ve been involved in actively campaigning for over a year now and we won’t be stopping,’ she told Australian Story.
But Mr Kadirgamar insists that ‘no stone will be left unturned’ and that ‘every legal avenue’ will be pursed before her deportation.
Ms Shamsalipoor has previously stated she would kill herself before returning to Iran.
‘[To] die in peace is better than [to] die with torture,’ she told the ABC.
Source: Daily Mail