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By INU Staff

INU - Hamed Shamshiripour was an asylum seeker being held on Manus Island. Earlier this week he was found dead in a forested area near the refugee transit centre where he was staying. Numerous people had been raising alarms about his health. These included fellow asylum seekers and refugees on the island, several mental health specialists in the refugee centre, and advocates in Australia. They warned that Shamshiripour frequently suffered from chaotic behaviour and worrying psychotic episodes.

The police commissioner of Papua New Guinea said that Shamshiripour died by suicide, but fellow refugees have asked for an autopsy to provide official confirmation. Many claim that Shamshiripour has had altercations with the public and wonder if he had been attacked.

Due to his unpredictable and erratic behaviour and his apparent instability, many, including health professionals, called for him to be treated properly.

Dr John Brayley, the Australian Border Force’s chief medical officer, was contacted personally about these concerns. His role is to oversee the health care of every immigrant detainee on the Island. As far back as year ago, Brayley was warned about Shamshiripour’s health. In August 2016, the doctor said in a letter that he was aware of the concerns and had thus requested the file. Other correspondence indicates that the doctor was personally monitoring Shamshiripour.

The reports indicate that Shamshiripour displayed very worrying signs of a deterioration in his mental health. He would switch between sobbing and laughing and would make strange statements such as declaring himself the King of Iran. People were concerned that he would become a danger to others and well as to himself.

After several episodes he was arrested and sent to jail in Lorengau for a month. More than a dozen complaints were made regarding this. They condemned authorities for sending him to jail rather than giving him the necessary treatment.

Since the Iranian’s death, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee’s office has said that it was saddened by the tragedy and highlighted that the situation for those on the island is precarious following news of the planned closure of the detention centre.

The centre was deemed illegal and will close at some stage. This is understandably a cause of concern for the almost 800 people who remain at the centre. They are also concerned about their security on the island as there have been a spate of violent incidents in recent years.

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