The day my friend Hamid Khazaei died | Behrouz Boochani

As the inquest into the death of Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei begins, his friend and fellow Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani tells how he learned of a tragedy that in his view could have easily been prevented

It was a gloomy sunset in the Manus prison. We, a group of refugees from the Foxtrot prison, were heading towards the corridor where the mourning ceremony was held by Iranian refugees for Hamid Kehazaei. The news of Hamid’s death had been confirmed in the morning when his friends contacted his family in Iran. A deathly silence filled the prison, and the faces of captive prisoners were full of sorrow, frustration and agony.

Hamid’s death was totally different from any other death. It was beyond human nature. It could have been easily prevented and was the result of incalculable cruelty, and so our emotions were beyond those a person usually experiences as the result of losing a friend.

Great fear gripped each of us in Manus prison. Was our destiny the same as Hamid’s? Was it to be that sooner or later everything would be destroyed and finished by a simple infection? This fear was most notable in those who were sick.

We were about to arrive at the mourning ceremony when a couple of officers came to me and told me there was an urgent meeting being held at a room near the Green zone (the solitary confinement area) and that as a community leader I needed to be present. Without delay, I went with them.

The room was next to the Foxtrot prison and we were able to hear the movements and happenings of all the people attending the ceremony.

The community leaders of Oscar, Mike and Delta compounds were also invited to the meeting. The atmosphere was full of pain and sorrow. The officers present told us there was no hope for Hamid’s life and that he had passed away. They had no response to our questions: why had Hamid passed away? Why should a person lose his life as a result of a simple infection? Why were we not informed of his death sooner? Why was his death announced exactly when there was a mourning ceremony in front of Hamid’s room? Why was it announced when all the refugees had already known about his death?

After a while, I left the meeting, which had been full of dispute. Without saying anything to anyone, I headed to the ceremony. I was thinking about the suspicious behaviour of the prison authorities during the ceremony and trying to find a reason why they were evading the truth about Hamid’s death: why had they ignored all our requests about his health condition when we had been worried about him during those previous days?

It was completely unacceptable that even when everyone had been informed of Hamid’s death, the authorities were still afraid of telling the truth, and that as the ceremony was happening, they took the community leaders to the rear room of the prison and announced it to us.

Everything was suspicious.

  • Translated by Moones Mansoubi


Behrouz Boochani

The GuardianTramp

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