By Peter Bugden
“THIS is killing me,” Milad Jafari said in Darwin after having visited his wife Mojgan Shamsalipoor in immigration detention.
The 21-year-old refugees from Iran, married for 10 months, were separated on August 7 when Ms Shamsalipoor was transferred from a Brisbane detention centre to another in Darwin after her asylum claim was rejected.
Hundreds of people, including staff and students at Yeronga State High School, where Ms Shamsalipoor had been completing Year 12, and Catholic asylum-seeker advocate Brendan Scarce, have rallied to have her released from detention and the young couple reunited.
Mr Jafari, a permanent resident of Australia, flew to Darwin last weekend to be near his wife, and by Monday he had been allowed to visit her twice.
“The first time, we just hugged each other so hard and cried and cried for five minutes,” he said.
He said his wife was “so nervous”.
“She’s getting skinny,” Mr Jafari said.
“I hate this. This is killing me.
“It’s too much for me. I cannot take it.
“I wish I would be inside and her outside. That’s how I feel about it.”
Mr Jafari said Ms Shamsalipoor’s brother, who had also been living in Brisbane, had been in detention in Darwin for a year and was depressed.
A teacher from Yeronga State High was in Darwin for a few days to give Ms Shamsalipoor school work and assignments to do so she can continue with Year 12 studies while in Darwin.
Mr Jafari and Ms Shamsalipoor fear she will be removed from Australia but believe it is unsafe for her to return to Iran.
A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Ms Shamsalipoor was an “illegal maritime arrival” who arrived in 2012, was placed in community detention and lodged a protection visa application.
“That application was refused late in 2012 and that decision was affirmed by the Refugee Review Tribunal in 2013,” the spokesperson said.
“A judicial review in the Federal Circuit Court was also unsuccessful.
“In 2014 the then Minister decided it would not be in the public interest to intervene in this case.”
The spokesperson said Ms Shamsalipoor’s last visa ceased in 2013 and “she remained unlawfully in the community”.
“The Minister has looked at the case and considers a thorough assessment of her claim to be a refugee was carried out by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and she was found not to engage Australia’s protection obligations,” they said.
“Individuals who have exhausted all avenues to remain in Australia are expected to depart.”
Media reports indicate Australia and Iran have not reached agreement about the forced return of failed asylum seekers.
About 300 people attended a second Brisbane rally in support of Ms Shamsalipoor on August 28.