Media Release from the National Justice Project
Manus death ‘cover up’ unacceptable – Bring the body here.
The family of an Iranian asylum seeker found dead on Manus Island is demanding the Australian Government launch a vigorous and transparent investigation into his death.
Hamed Shamshiripour’s body was found in bushland near the island’s Australian-run transit centre on Monday 7 August. Local authorities are treating the death as a suspected suicide.
Australia Border Force was consistently warned that the 31 year old was dealing with severe mental health challenges for at least a year before his death.
National Justice Project lawyer Adjunct Professor George Newhouse, who is acting for the Shamshiripour family, said the truth must come out.
“Make no mistake, this is a death in custody and the Australian Government is responsible,” Adj/Professor Newhouse said.
“It might have happened in Manus, not Manly, but it’s still on our watch.”
“We need to know how Hamed died and why the Australian government didn’t act to keep him alive when they knew about his fragile state.”
Newhouse says the Shamshiripour family want the body bought to Australia so an independent forensic pathologist can examine Hamed’s body and so that a Coroner can call an inquest here.
“The government knew that Hamed was subjected to assaults and beatings as a result of his mental health battles. Things got so bad that leading advocates demanded that the government take action before he was murdered or took his own life”.
“We need an inquest in Australia because of our government’s role in his death and because foul play has not been ruled out. We know that witnesses have described markings on the body that are inconsistent with suicide and these must be investigated”.
Australian witnesses would not be summoned to an inquest in PNG.
“We also know that relations between locals and refugees on Manus have become increasingly hostile, with the beatings, machete attacks and violent robberies of refugees on the Island becoming routine”
The family are also demanding that top Australian government officials come clean on what they knew of Hamed’s fragile state even if that means being answerable at a PNG inquest.
Adj/Professor Newhouse says the Shamshiripour family’s requests should be respected. “They want our government to commit to a transparent and vigorous investigation about their role in the failure to treat or care for Hamed’s illness before his body is returned to them.”
“If any Australian mother lost their son in similar circumstances we’d leave no stone unturned searching for the truth.”
“The government owes the Shamshiripour family the truth and indeed they owe it to the Australian public.”