An Iranian woman who claimed she was repeatedly raped, tortured and told to marry an older man has failed to win asylum in Australia and now faces being deported to her home country.Mojgan Shamsalipoor, 21, who has been placed back in detention after her asylum claim was rejected by immigration officials, planned to return to Iran to apply for a spouse visa after marrying an Australian resident last year.But Shamsalipoor, who fled Iran in 2012 with her brother Hussein after she was told she would never see her mother again unless she married a man in his late 50s, was warned by friends and family it was unsafe to return, her supporters say.
Her husband, Milad Jafari, said she was now being denied contact with her brother in a Darwin detention centre after being forcibly relocated on Friday from Brisbane where she was three months away from graduating high school.
“The immigration department was actually promising her if she was going to be separated from her husband, she will be with her brother [in detention],” Jafari told Guardian Australia.
“They have not let them see each other for more than one hour and yesterday they cancelled their visit. They say she has to put in an application and that takes time.”
Jafari said the siblings had been placed in separate sections of the detention centre in Darwin; she in the family quarters, her brother in the single quarters.
“She doesn’t want to eat or drink, she’s very upset about the situation,” he said.
Jafari said he planned to move to Darwin to be closer to Shamsalipoor “so I can support her”.
“But before I go I’m going to fight for her, no matter what happens, because this is my last chance to tell everybody I love her and how much I care about my wife,” he said.
Jafari said lawyers had suggested Shamsalipoor’s hopes of obtaining a spouse visa from overseas would now likely be dashed because her asylum claim had been rejected. She is due to speak soon to a migration lawyer recommended by prominent barrister Julian Burnside.
Queensland Teachers’ Union member and supporter Jessica Walker said Shamsalipoor’s sudden removal from detention in Brisbane, where she attended Yeronga state high school daily under the watch of security guards, had left fellow students “distraught” and teachers and parents in shock.
“Forty-seven of our students, including Mojgan, are on these bridging visas or with no visas,” Walker said.
“Other kids now in community detention were at the same detention centre in Brisbane as she was. So they’re now thinking, if that happened to her, what’s now going to happen to us?
“The kids today were asking: ‘Why has she been taken? What would happen if she went back to Iran? What can we do? It’s not fair, she’s married to an Australian, he’s a new Australian but that shouldn’t matter’.”
Shamsalipoor married Jafari, also 21 and from Iran, late last year after they met at Brisbane’s Milperra high school. They then transferred to Yeronga, where Walker said it was “very obvious” their relationship was genuine.
She lived with Jafari and his parents, who were granted permanent resident protection visas in 2012 after more than two years in community detention.
Walker said Shamsalipoor had prepared to return to Iran to finish her schooling and apply for a spouse visa after her asylum claim was rejected.
But she abandoned those plans “after she received advice from family and friends in Iran that it would be very unsafe for her to return”.
“That was all at the last minute because everything was planned for her to go and then she said I can’t and that’s when she went into detention [in Brisbane in late 2014],” Walker said.
In Iran Shamsalipoor had experienced “repeated sexual assault, was raped by more than one person and suffered mental and physical torture by someone who was meant to protect her”, Walker said.
“She was told she had to marry a much older man, whom she thinks is aged 58 to 60 years, or she would never see her mother again,” she said.
This ultimatum prompted her brother to take her out of Iran to Australia via Indonesia, Walker said.
While in detention in Brisbane, Shamsalipoor was escorted to school by guards who routinely searched her for forbidden items such as money.
On one occasion, a guard who found her with $20 which Jafari had given her for an excursion “yelled at her” in front of a group of shocked parents and students, Walker said.
“It’s just horrible the way she’s been treated,” she said.
When Shamsalipoor learned her brother’s asylum claim was rejected in 2014, she suffered a “significant panic attack” at school, where she had to be sedated by ambulance officers with morphine, Walker said.
The school community, through teachers, the principal and the Parents and Citizens’ Association have for months petitioned immigration minister Peter Dutton to intervene in Shamsalipoor’s case.
“Every time we get the same response back, that she’s being ‘well cared for in line with her circumstances’,” Walker said.
Students are planning to dedicate a school multicultural day concert on Friday to Shamsalipoor, who had been due to perform.
Comment has been sought from the immigration department.
- The Queensland Teachers’ Union is holding a rally at Brisbane’s Waterfront Place on Friday from 4.30pm to protest the removal of Shamsalipoor and other students from their studies in Brisbane to interstate detention centres.