Loghman Sawari is a young refugee who fled Iran after his cousin was executed by the regime and his brothers tortured and imprisoned. After being illegally renditioned by Australia to its offshore gulag on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Sawari suffered isolation and beatings. He also attempted suicide.
But he spectacularly fled to Fiji from PNG. On his arrival in Suwa, a local Fijian family sheltered him. His Fijian lawyer, Aman Ravindra-Singh, organised an agreement with the director of immigration that his client would lodge his asylum application paperwork on Friday. But on his way to see the director, Sawari was kidnapped.
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- Sawari now in PNG jail and is charged with leaving country using false I/D. He could face 6 months jail. Sawari has tried to commit suicide before and likelihood he could try again.
- Sawari clearly should have lodged his formal applicarion for asylum with the Fijian authorities on arrival or soon after. Sawari’s Fijian lawyer, Aman Ravindra Singh, was told this could wait until Friday (3 February) when he and his client would meet with the Immigration minister. On the way to that meeting, Sawari was snatched by the Fijian authorities and taken straight to the airport and a waiting plane to Papua New Guinea. Clearly this had been planned in advance. Sawari’s lawyer admits he and his client may have been tricked into waiting until Friday. Singh said: “If I knew that this would have happened, I would never have agreed to the meeting”.
- Sawari is an Ahwazi Arab. Iran has executed scores of Ahwazi Arabs. In 2015 Amnesty International published a detailed report on the persecution (jailing, torture, execution) of Ahwazi Arabs. Sawari’s two brothers were arrested and tortured by the Iranian authorities; his cousin was executed. This is why Sawari sought asylum in Australia. Instead, Australia rendition Sawari and placed him in indefinite detention on Manus Island, where he was bullied and beaten.
Malcolm Turnbull is ultimately accountable for Sawari’s fate. If Sawari is harmed in any way, Turnbull will be responsible.
The best solution now is for an appropriate agency (UN or Australian human rights lawyers) to intervene and organise a safe country for Sawari to go to.