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A tribute to the refugees we have forgotten

Since writing this tribute, another refugee, MD Mohsin, has committed suicide

Content Warning: Suicide

It is with a deep sense of sorrow that we pay our respects to Sayed Mirwais Rohani, a Hazara refugee who committed suicide on Tuesday, 15 October 2019.

Mirwais was a trained doctor. After being moved off Manus Island following deteriorating mental health, he volunteered at the Lorengau hospital. Mirwais’ father made numerous pleas for him to be resettled in the United Kingdom. Those pleas fell were not heard because Peter Dutton refused their requests. Mirwais was not an act of suicide. A callous Australian society that supports the arbitrary incarceration of the most persecuted people took his life. For our complicity in that society, we express sincere regret. 

In last weekend’s edition of the Saturday Paper, Maxine Beneba Clarke articulated just how beautiful a human life is in her poem, Jacqui’s law. She was writing about Hamid Khazaei – a refugee who died after the government did not grant him medical treatment for his infected leg:


in photographs,

          his eyes are as deep

as where the gulf of aden

                greets the arabian sea

and the aching amber hue

    of falling

       autumn leaves

No government has the right to manifest a situation that drives innocent people to the end of their lives. Ours is fuelled by a misguided, archaic and racist belief in the fallacy of “securing our borders.” Ours has driven Sayed to this fate. 

Mirwais was the thirteenth person to die after being transferred to Australia. For most Australians, the names of the twelve who died before him have fallen victim to short memories and apathy. While contemporary society allows these innocent refugees to fall out of our minds, it is our hope that the history books do not forget them. We pray that there comes a time where the present becomes a dark chapter in Australia’s past. A time where tributes like these are no longer necessary. A time where Western societies take on the human costs.