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Story of Ahamad

Australia (Afghanistan)

Here's an account of Ahamad*, a refugee from Afghanistan, miraculously escaped the Taliban and sought safety in #Australia.

However, he described the torment of indefinite detention that led him to a desperate act of self-immolation while on the Pacific Island of Nauru. He reported having third-degree burn injuries that have scarred him for life.

Ahamad's tumultuous journey to Australia began in 2013 after the Taliban targeted him for working alongside US forces. In the hope of one day reuniting with his family, he fled to Malaysia, then Indonesia, where he embarked on a boat bound for Christmas Island. Instead, he was transferred to Nauru, and in 2014 he was granted refugee status. However, after nearly five years in limbo on Nauru, he felt increasingly hopeless as he observed other refugees being resettled. Ahamad consequently tried to take his own life.

He was flown to Brisbane for medical attention and required ongoing treatment for his burns, affecting 51% of his body. Last year, he was relocated to the Park Hotel. At the same hotel, tennis sensation Novak Djokovic was recently detained before a judge controversially ordered his release. The hotel detention has taken its toll on Ahamad's mental health and family relations. In 2013, Australia's Rudd government announced that asylum seekers who arrive by boat would no longer have the chance to be resettled in Australia. Unfortunately, this xenophobic stance has been upheld, leaving refugees such as Ahamad in limbo.

Ahamad is not the only refugee self-immolated while in offshore detention on Nauru. In 2016, 23-year-old Iranian Omid Masoumali died of organ failure after setting himself on fire. One week afterward, 21-year-old Somali refugee Hodan Yasin suffered critical burns to 70% of her body and lost some fingers after setting herself alight. Ahmad is one of at least 30 refugees who were medically evacuated to Australia and are presently detained there. However, Ahamad is not just part of a refugee statistic – he is a real person who bears a complex story laced with tragedy, survival, and hope.

*name changed

Story of Ahamad
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