Notes about Nazanin, Omid and their Mother (May – October 2015)
These notes are based on personal conversations with the main parties as well as with medical, legal and other professionals involved in their case.
Please note that the mother of Omid and Nazanin is not referred to by name at her request.
Please note that some information has been held back as the family have experienced threats in relation to releasing some information.
In May 2015, Nazanin, a 23 year-old asylum seeker on day release visited a friend in the Anibare refugee camp on Nauru.
When she did not return by evening guards and her brother 20-year old brother Omid went to search for her.
She was found at about 9pm that night by local police naked, bruised, and with bite marks on her body in a state of shock beside a road outside of the detention camp where she had been living in OPC 3.
The police put her in a car and drove around the island for approximately an hour, ostensibly in order to view some fire works.
It was only after this that Nazanin was then taken to the local police station.
Despite very obvious evidence of sexual and physical violence the police did not register this as an assault.
Nazanin was then taken to the hospital and finally to the IHMS clinic where rape kits were administered and other examinations performed.
Nazanin’s mother and brother were not told that she had been found until midnight that night.
Nazanin remained in the clinic without access to her family for 3 days. This was the longest period that the family had spent apart until then.
Nazanin was moved between the IHMS clinic and OPC 1 accommodation according to her medical state.
She was not given the correct treatment that would be standard for any other rape victim in Australia.
Her health, both physical and mental, deteriorated. Nazanin attempted suicide during this time by cutting the veins on her arms.
Her family were eventually brought to be with her in OPC 1 where Nazanin would sleep either in her mother’s or brother’s arms. She was afraid to leave the tent.
6 weeks after the assault Nazanin was told that she must face her fears so as to prevent what was called ‘avoidant behaviour’. Nazanin was forced out of the tent into the larger camp and, according to sources, outside of the camp.
As a result Nazanin went into further shock. She attempted suicide for the second time after this by ingesting insecticide. She was quickly returned to the IHMS clinic.
At the time that Nazanin ingested the insecticide her mother and brother were lining up at the IHMS clinic for some medication for her mother. Both the mother and brother heard Nazanin scream and ran towards her.
It is reported that Mother was screaming and fainting/falling.
Omid was grabbed by two Australian officers from Wilson’s security, brought down in a manner where his face was smashed into the ground. He was then sat on and cuffed. An eyewitness account of this exists.
The local police were called and Omid was taken to the local police station where he was held without charge for in excess of 30 hours.
During that time he reports locals and guards walking past his cell and pissing through the bars. There was no furniture in the cell. He tried to dry an area on the floor to sleep with his tshirt.
After the suicide attempt by ingesting insecticide, Nazanin stopped talking, eating and drank very little. Her stomach was bleeding. She remained in this trauma response for many weeks. Her kidneys were suffering and she was rehydrated a few times at the IHMS clinic. However she continued to deteriorate.
The family were separated: Omid and his mother were placed in OPC 3 and Nazanin in OPC 1. mother and Omid visited when they were allowed, having to take a long bus trip to the clinic whenever the bus was available. Visits were supervised. Omid and his mother report that Nazanin would say very little aside from ‘Help me’. She would also hold their hands tightly whenever they had to leave, apparently not wanting them to go. Omid and mother report that she was always very scared. Omid met with immigration to ask that the family be kept together, not separated, as it was causing more distress for Nazanin, her mother and Omid. The immigration worker said he would refer the request to his seniors.
Despite the team leader of mental health and the team leader of clinical health, alongside many other workers, petitioning for Nazanin to be brought to Australia this did not happen until approximately 3 months after the initial assault.
It was not until the 20th of August, when her kidneys were failing and she was also at risk of heart failure that Nazanin was medivaced to Australia where she remains in a Brisbane hospital.
Omid and Mother were told by the Senior Medical Officer, just prior to Nazanin being medivaced off the island on Friday, that they would follow Nazanin to Australia to be beside her. They were told there was only enough room for a medical officer and a [Tranfield] guard to accompany Nazanin in the aircraft and that Omid and mother would be flown to Australia. The next day, on Saturday, a nurse from IHMS came to their tent and told themthat they would not be taken to Australia to be with Nazanin.
Omid and mother were not told where Nazanin was or given any information about her condition for 3 days.
Omid initiated a family tracing search through the Red Cross. It was only then that they were informed that Nazanin was in Brisbane.
The Red Cross letter to Omid says that DIBP and IHMS had given assurances that Omid and Mother had been told where Nazanin was, details of her condition and that they had had direct access to her via phone.
Omid and Mother were later told this information and were allowed 2-3 minute phone calls with Nazanin every second day with the number dialed from the IHMS office by an worker.
Mother continued to decline mentally and physically. She has been diagnosed with diabetes and has a ‘stomach problem’ diagnosed since her daughter’s assault.
Omid continued to try to care for his mother who he described as ‘under too much pressure’, as ‘dying’, attempting to ‘hurt herself’, unable to leave the tent and extremely distressed.
Despite Mother’s diagnosed health problems, she has been told by the Wilson guards to ‘act like normal’ and go to the tent herself to get food and join activities.
On the 3rd of October Mother attempted suicide by hanging. This was her fourth suicide attempt. She could no longer bear the separation from her sick daughter.
The next day Mother and Omid were moved to OPC 1 (IHMS compound) and Mother placed on suicide watch with 2-3 guards with her 24/7. She continued to try to hurt herself from time to time. Her mental health declined further and she would scream and cry a lot.
Because of the deteriorating mental condition of both Nazanin and Mother phone calls to Nazanin were stopped by the family as Nazanin was now not speaking but crying and screaming, as was Mother.
On Tuesday 6th October Omid was suicidal. He spoke of being unable to bear the pressure anymore. He became overwhelmed and ate some rocks and stones. He was taken to the IHMS clinic for observation and was on a drip for 4 days. A medical professional attending him said that they were doing all they could to pressure the government to reunite the family in Australia.
During their time in OPC 1 Omid reports that the Team Leader of IHMS Mental Health on Nauru and the Team Leader of Clinical Health on Nauru resigned. Both of them came to mother and Omid and explained they could no longer work because of the way that Nazanin, Omid and Mother were being treated. One of the doctors was a psychologist who had worked with the family for a while and who had worked for IHMS on Nauru for at least 2 years. Sources have told us that she was very distressed by the treatment of this family in particular. The other was the clinical doctor who had been attempting to treat Nazanin whilst pushing for DIBP to bring her to Australia even as his ongoing and persistent recommendations continued to be denied by DIBP.
Appalled by the ordeals that the family have been subject to, many staff have apologised to Omid and mother and said they are doing all they can to pressure the government to be brought to Australia to be with Nazanin.
In Australia, Professor Carolyn Quadrio, a psychiatrist who is to visit Nazanin and do a psychiatric assessment for lawyers Maurice and Blackburn, has had her requests to visit rejected She continues to attempt to visit Nazanin at the request of Nazanin and her family.
Nazanin has now been in Brisbane hospital without her family since August 20th 2015.
All 3 members of this family have attempted suicide multiple times since the assault on Nazanin in May.
The information above has also been reported in the following media reports (and others):