‘They grabbed my arms’: The sick fugitive deported from Australia | Refugee News

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Hector (whose name has been changed for his safety) was deported from Australian immigration detention last year and sent back to the country he fled fearing for his life.

He received 1,000 Australian dollars (US$715), a few weeks of hotel accommodation and three weeks of the medicine he needs to survive.

He told Al Jazeera in his own words what happened.

The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Hector’s story:

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

I came to Australia by boat six years ago because my life at home was in danger.

I asked for protection and they just kept swearing at me over and over again.

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

They hit people there to prove something to others.

Even people die inside and no one knows. Nobody cares. Just two or three things in the media, nothing more.

I became depressed while in prison and then contracted a rare disease called Addison’s disease because of the severe depression I went through – my body stopped making hormones.

I lost 60 pounds and people left me thinking I was playing games – I didn’t want to eat.

Nobody knew about my illness at the time.

Nobody checked me.

“They beat me up”

In 2019, I was hospitalized for three months for depression and PTSD, and a week after my release, authorities tried to force me onto a public plane.

I stood up in the seat of the plane and three officers beat me to knock me down.

The passengers told them, “We don’t care if it’s your job, don’t touch it,” and then the pilot came and told them to take me off the plane.

I was badly 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 like a punishment.

Eventually I was taken back to the main center.

Time passed.

They took me from Melbourne to Sydney to take me away from my doctor, all my friends, girlfriend, support and everyone who sent me there to break me even more.

Then I was in Sydney from early 2020 to December 2020. I almost died there, my story was all over the media.

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

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

I began ongoing treatment for depression each month. I was in a clinic in Melbourne, Psychiatry.

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 said, “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 guards came, they’re the troublemaker guards, and I’ve never been a troublemaker.

I was sitting out there in a chair with crutches, outside my room, having a coffee, and I asked them, “Can I go to my room and pack my things?” They said, “No, no, no.”

Can I call my lawyer?

“No.”

They gave me no rights.

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

They grabbed my arms and we went to the offices. There was a border guard and he said to me: “Today you will be deported.”

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

“I am like a man without a soul”

They dropped me off there and the police came and took me to ask me why I went to Australia. And then they just left me on the street.

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

I weighed 48 kg and walked on crutches.

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

My Melbourne friends went online and found me a home with people who could help. You are paying me for a room at the moment.

I stopped all my medications because I can’t afford to buy them.

There is absolutely no specialist for my illness here.

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

I’m like a person without a soul, nothing hurts me anymore.

The Australian Government’s response

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

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

“The Department welcomes scrutiny by oversight and monitoring bodies and continues to work with them to ensure detainees in immigration detention are treated humanely and fairly.”

“The priority for the ABF is the health and safety of all detainees and staff,” they said, and “adequate surveillance, welfare and security arrangements are in place in all immigration detention facilities.”

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

“The time a person spends in immigration detention depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of their case, the legal processes they follow and whether they voluntarily choose to leave Australia.”

“All detainees have the opportunity to raise complaints about any aspect of their detention with the department, subcontractors and a range of external overseers, including the police.”

“The Migration Act 1958 provides the legal framework governing the entry and residence of non-citizens in Australia. Non-nationals without a valid visa who have exhausted all opportunities to stay legally in Australia are expected to leave the country.

“According to the Migration Act, the ABF must deport an illegal non-citizen as soon as possible. This can be done through voluntary removal or involuntary removal where the individual opposes their removal involuntarily.

“People who are deported from Australia will receive post-deportation support that will be assessed based on their individual circumstances.”

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