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Another death at Manus Island

Faysal Ishak Ahmed, 27, from Sudan, collapsed at the Manus Island detention  centre on 22 December 2016, after complaining for many months of heart pain and other serious ailments. He was evacuated to Brisbane, but died on Christmas Eve. The Immigration Department said Faysal had suffered a seizure and that there were no suspicious circumstances.

Faysal was born in Darfur, Sudan, a region associated with famine, war, genocide and displacement. In 2004, at the age of 13, his family was displaced and moved to the Kasab refugee camp. After nine years in the camp, Faysal left behind his nine-month-old son and wife, determined to reach Australia. On 1 September 2013, he travelled to Australia from Indonesia on a decaying boat with 90 other people. The boat was intercepted by the Australian navy and the occupants transferred to Christmas Island and then to Manus Island.

Once in Manus detention centre, he began to experience persistent abdominal pain and then severe heart problems. For the last six months of his life he would visit the medical centre every day and beg for assistance. Friends said Faysal told them the medical clinic told him to stop coming, and to stop pretending to be sick. A few days later, Faysal collapsed for the last time. After 24 hours the centre transferred him to Australia. The next day, news of his death was published in the media (ABC News 25 December 2016, Guardian 30 December 2016).

Faysal was a young man whose life was full of pain; he spent more than half his life in refugee camps. He waged and lost his one great asset in trying to reach Australia: his life. The prophet Nathan's story of the poor man whose only lamb was taken by the rich man (2 Samuel 12) demands our reflection, our repentance. 

Faysal could have been our brother, our son.  What will happen now to his wife, his son?

The Australian Border Deaths Database puts the number at 33 deaths in onshore and offshore detention facilities since 2010. 

Let us keep up the pressure on this government to close the detention centres, and bring the detainees from Manus Island and Nauru to Australia.  



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