My friend’s story

Just before Christmas 2018 my friend rang me saying he was handcuffed and in a cell. He was also upset he had not been given his medication (he is a diabetic and receiving medication for depression). My friend had committed no crime.

My friend flew into Australia in 2010. Because he claimed asylum at customs, the authorities cancelled his visa. He was detained at Villawood and reliant on the charity of visitors and pro-bono legal representation.

And then after four years, on February 10, 2014, along with 10,000 other asylum seekers, the government breached his data. He was subsequently moved, first to Darwin and then to WA and finally flown to the transit centre in Melbourne. He was taken from Villawood, presumably to remove him from support networks. (He still hasn’t had a decision about his data breach case.)

He was deported in handcuffs to Johannesburg. On arrival he was handed a travel document, the account for the flights and accommodation for his guards, then left to find his own way through arrivals. He was given no medication and the only money he was given was money I had managed to get to him in Melbourne.

Yes, he had permanent residency in South Africa, but he has no family or friends in South Africa and it is a very dangerous place, especially for a poor Nigerian. He managed to get himself to São Paulo, Brazil, where, as he says, they at least don’t want to kill Nigerians.

I wonder how many people have had this done to them at the hands of our government. How many people have died or gone mad.

I have helped people recover from three-and-a-half years’ detention. I am filled with admiration that my friend continues to survive. I continue to support him. I can’t afford it but he is my friend and I am deeply ashamed of his treatment at the hands of my government.

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