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And so this is Christmas Island

  • 14 December 2022
My name is Farhad Bandesh. For seven-and-a-half years I was not called by my name. The Australian Federal Government took it away and changed my identity to a number. I was COA 060.  I am Kurdish and we are a persecuted people. We have suffered genocide, wars, displacement, the removal of our culture, language, everything that is sacred. In 2013, I was forced to flee my homeland in Iran. I arrived into Australia by boat seeking safety and protection only to be tortured all over again. I fled persecution and found more.  

I was a trafficked person, human cargo, forced into immigration prisons by the Australian government for years as punishment for daring to seek asylum. I was imprisoned on Christmas Island, then moved to Manus Island where I was held under the most cruel and inhumane conditions for 6 years. Of the 3127 people who arrived seeking asylum by boat after July 19, 2013, approximately 1500 were sent to Manus. The others, including hundreds of women and children, were sent to Australia’s other notorious detention facility on Nauru. Both facilities were funded and managed by Australia. They were deliberately designed to inflict suffering upon us and keep us hidden from public view. Our lives were sacrificed as a deterrent to discourage others from coming and the human cost was high. We witnessed avoidable deaths and persistent incidents of self-harm in those hell holes offshore. We all battled constant trauma, chronic mental and physical health problems for years and years. All of us experienced the stress, the depression, the fear, the anxiety, the hopelessness inflicted upon us by the Australian Government over the past decade. 

In 2019, I was transferred to Australia under the medevac legislation and imprisoned for another 18 months, first in the Mantra Hotel in Melbourne and finally in MITA (Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation). I was shunted from one prison to another for nearly 8 years. 

I had serious medical issues but they were never treated. In Melbourne, I spent 23 hours a day in a small room in that hotel but it was not a hotel. It was another prison camp. For the first 3 months I was not allowed to have fresh air or sunshine. I was constantly pat-searched. The humiliation we were made to feel on a daily basis on Manus continued on during my detention in Australia.

In December 2020, I was finally released and have now