Still in detention, after 11 years

Still in detention, after 11 years

Imasi Said is not sure where he was born nor how old he is. He does not know anything about his father. He thinks he was born in Spain’s Canary Islands and that his mother then returned with him to Western Sahara where she came from. He was abandoned by his mother as a young child and as a result was trafficked through to his teenage years, where he ended up in Norway.

Imasi was desperate to escape his situation and when he was approximately 20 years of age he managed to get away. He ended up at Tullamarine Airport in January 2010. The passport he was using was not his, as a stateless person without citizenship cannot obtain a passport. He was taken and placed in immigration detention where he has been ever since. In the 11 plus years since, Imasi has been confined in detention centres in Melbourne, Christmas Island, Yongah Hill in WA,  and he has been in Villawood for the past few years.  The length of time Imasi has been in detention has badly affected his physical health and plunged him at times into depths of suicidal depression.

Imasi has exhausted all avenues via the courts to be released into the community, the last one being the Federal Circuit Court in January 2021. The presiding judge at that court said that due to the way Australian law is formed, he cannot do anything as a political decision is needed.

Pre Covid I was a regular visitor to Villawood Immigration Detention Centre for several years and this is where I first got to know Imasi. I have stayed in contact via phone on a regular basis since. So often when we would see Imasi or talk to him on the phone, he would do his best to be cheerful and positive in bleak circumstances. He is a very warm, friendly and caring person, so often when talking with him he would ask after friends and family. He is a very engaging person and quite intelligent. It is such a waste for him to spend endless years in detention.

How can we help?

People power can work, we have seen how effective it has been with the Biloela family, though not fully resolved, but had it not been for people all over Australia calling for their release from detention, they would still be on Christmas Island.

Please make Imasi’s story known through social media and informing your friends and church community. Write letters, send emails, make phone calls to your Federal Member and to the Minister for Immigration, the Hon. Alex Hawke: alex.hawke.mp@aph.gov.au ; phone: (02) 9899 7211.

Geoff Latimore

Wollongong

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