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Stop Sayed being sent back to the detention centre.

This petition had 578 supporters


When he was 16 years old, my friend Sayed was captured and tortured by Taliban forces outside his home town in Pakistan. He was held for 8 days, during which time he was forced to watch his captors brutally torture and then execute his childhood friend.

I met Sayed a month ago, in a psychiatric hospital. I was admitted for wanting to kill myself - I have had chronic depression and anxiety my entire life, and have, in my 35 years, learned to identify when I am having unsafe thoughts and how to keep myself safe. This was the first time I have been admitted to hospital since I was 14, before Sayed was born.

Sayed was admitted three months ago for making multiple attempts on his life while in a 'detention facility' in Broadmeadows. I say that Sayed is in detention - he is, in fact, in what amounts to a jail. His crime: fleeing an inevitable repeat kidnapping by the Taliban.

Listening to Sayed's story is a heartbreaking experience. The details are so shocking to my wester ears that I cannot hope to fathom how a person can still bear to be alive after having been through such astounding trauma. Sayed is fighting for his sanity, trapped by his own mind, which provides him with constant, vivid 'flashbacks' to the time of his kidnapping and torture. Sayed turned 18 in March. He was just a child when he was kidnapped, and still a child when he boarded a tiny unsafe vessel and risked his life to come to Australia to find safety.

In detention, Sayed began to harm himself, making several attempts on his own life. The details here are fairly brutal - detention centres do not provide easy means of self-harm lying around, so Sayed had to be determined. He cut himself with whatever not-entirely-blunt object came to hand, and rammed his head as hard as possible into the corners of walls, hoping to cave in his skull and end the ever-present flashbacks, hallucinations, trauma, depression, anxiety, and confusion. Sayed was assigned guards to stay with him in detention wherever he went, including while he slept, which was not often. Sleep brings dreams, and night terrors, and is a thing to be avoided.

Sayed was sent to a mental hospital in Brisbane, where, for the first time, he was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, among other things. He was given medication, and stayed in the hospital for almost two months.

A friend who had been transferred to a detention centre in Melbourne got word to Sayed that things were better here - the staff were nicer, he said. Sayed asked to be transferred so he could be with his friend, and was brought to the Broadmeadows detention centre around the time of his 18th birthday. At the Broadmeadows facility, the staff stopped giving him his medication, with no explanation. He began to hallucinate again, having vivid, realistic flashbacks to watching his friend stabbed repeatedly and then killed. Sayed had no access to a doctor in detention, and his friend was already released into community detention. Sayed again began to self-harm and make attempts at suicide. Three months ago, he was tranferred to a psychiatric hospital where he now resides, followed at all times by two guards from a private security company provided by the detention apparatus.

At this hospital, with the help of his doctors, the nursing staff, his guards, and the other patients, Sayed is safe. His mood is mostly stable, he receives his medication, is fed good food, and sometimes manages to sleep. Through therapy, Sayed is working through his PTSD and hallucinates less than he used to. But Sayed is not 'better'. He is, really, only holding on by the skin of his teeth.

Yesterday, Sayed's doctor, under constant pressure from the Department to justify Sayed's continued stay in the hospital, informed Sayed that he would be discharged on Wednesday, and returned to the detention centre. Sayed broke down in tears and became confused and frightened. He said to me, 'The doctors (in the detention centre) do not care about me. They do not care about my medication. If I go back there, I will again suicide.'

This is not a threat; it is a statement of fact. In detention, Sayed has no guarantee of access to medication, therapy, or anyone who cares about him at all. Sayed said to me, 'I do not even care about visa - I just want this (he gestures to his head) to get better.'

'This is my last chance. I will never be "well" to go back to detention. I will suicide. I can never be sent back there. It is my death.'

Just under a year ago, a traumatised child named Sayed came to Australia on a listing, leaky boat, packed with other asylum-seekers, fleeing the Taliban who kidnapped him, tortured him, and brutally tortured and executed his childhood friend. We put him in jail. Please help me save my friend. Although he often wishes it, he does not deserve to die for what has happened to him.

I beg you for your support.



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