Monday, March 23, 2009

The day Marat Aminov tried to end his life: the whole story!

I am writing this piece because I am appalld at the Australian treatment of this poor family. The treatment of this family could not be accepted by any nation with minimum of human rights respect. It especially appalld all of us the lack of compassion on all levels in dealing with this family.

The lack of media interest:
I will come to some of the reasons why Marat tried to end his life. One of the major reasons was the complete silence of the media outlets about reporting on this issue. It shocked Marat and his family the low level of interest on reporting on their case, even after many attempts by us to attract the attention of the media outlets which are constantly present in the Parliament House. It shocked us how the media would talk for days about torturing a cat at train station by irresponsible teenager, but are negligent about reporting on torturing whole family for years by adult ministers and department’s bureaucrats.


The eviction from Parliament:
The story started when we traveled to Canberra determined to attract the attention of the PM and his minister for immigration by all means. I will not talk now in details about the plans that were put to do so. All what I need to say that we could attract the attention of media, MP, his ministers and MPs of all different parties. The attempt resulted in evicting me and Marat from the Parliament and banned us from there for 24 hours. When we were escorted by Federal police to the area designated for us to protest, we were still making media comments and demanding that the minister spare few minutes to meet us and discuss a way out. After the end of media interviews, I noticed that there is blood coming from Marat’s chin. He was also in deep pain. We discovered later that he was beaten by security officers by kicking his face with their shoes. I called 000 asking for medical check.

Early signs of politicizing health services:
Upon ambulance arrival, a federal police agent blocked its way and talked for about 5 – 7 minutes to the ambulance officer. When she approached us, she immediately asked Marat to jump into the ambulance. After few seconds, she emerged alone from inside of the ambulance and told us that they need to take him to hospital for checks. I asked her to open the door to pass mobile phone to him, but she refused. She jumped to the ambulance, told us that they are taking him to Canberra hospital. Then the ambulance took off.

All this happened on Monday, 1 December. The parliament sitting for the year would end on Thursday, 4 December 08. The government needed to keep us away for another 3 days, until the parliament will close for Christmas period.

We collected all our chairs and table and went to hospital. After arriving to hospital and asking for him at reception, reception asked me to go immediately inside to help in calming Marat down. He was refusing to allow doctors to do anything to him. They wanted him to lie down on the bed and allow them to put collar around his neck, as they suspected that he hurt his neck when he jumped to the Parliament floor.

After his family’s long-time ordeal with the governmental departments, he had developed Schizophrenic disorder with deep anti-authorities feelings. He had suspicions about the doctors’ motives, so he would not lower his head. He needed to see always what the doctors and nurses are doing. I calmed him down and told him that we are there now and the doctors and nursed would not be able to hurt him. He then agreed to cooperate.

The doctor told me that they will keep him at hospital for several hours only to do some analysis and scans for his neck and vertebral column. We trusted the health officials, as we should in normal situation.

His parents told me to go back to Sydney and they will stay at hospital until he will be released. I asked them to contact me if anything would happen. I warned them to be very cautious as the government could try to do anything to make them look like violent or uncivilized people to justify the deeply inhumane treatment.

Around midnight, I received phone call from Alija, Marat’s mother. She was very distressed and crying. She told me that the police had arrested Samil, her husband, as he tried to take Marat home from hospital. I asked her not to do anything and ask Samil to go with them to police station and not resisting arrest.

Then politicizing judicial system:
On the next day Aliija called me again. She told me that Samil was taken to court without any interpreter or legal representative. The Legal Aid representative intervened, but with no success, as there was no interpreter to get Samil’s instruction to apply for bail. We learned too that Canberra hospital officials executed order to keep Marat in psychiatric unit for 3 days to “prevent suicidal attempts”.

The game was very clear. The government had politicized all services: medical, police, judicial,… in a bid to keep the family away from the Federal Parliament until the session ends.

Samil attempted to commit suicide:
While I started to talk about all these to media outlets, the family started to get very angry and frustrated. Then we knew that the sort of things that we warned off had happened: Samil tried to commit suicide inside his cell by slashing his wrist with metal object. The whole situation was headed to be out of control. The authorities were enforced to release Marat immediately from psychiatric unit. Marat and Alija called me to discuss the next move. We decided that they should go back to Parliament and continue their protest.

The day Marat tried to commit suicide:
Next day (Wednesday 3 December 08) I traveled to Canberra to be with the family and see what we can do. I traveled with my wife there.

On arrival, I heard what had happened. We then had extensive discussion about what we should do. We decided that we should do all what we can today, as the Parliament will go into rest for at least 50 days. The main issue for the family was the release of Samil from jail.

We noticed that next to our protest table, there were people preparing to celebrate in a big tent. We approached them and asked. It is the official celebration of the Day of people with disabilities. A very big irony. The government wanted to celebrate the resilience of people with disabilities, but was insisting to punish others and causes them deep disabilities. Very strange logic.

The journalists and cameramen started to flood the place. I approached Marat and told him that it is good time to do something to embarrass the government and to attract media attention. Marat did not say anything. He shock his head. Suddenly he disappeared. His mother asked about his whereabouts. We did not know, he simply did not say anything.

And suddenly he re-appeared. And suddenly many officials form the department of immigration appeared. They approached Marat and his mum asking how they are doing. Marat avoided them and moved to other place. They asked about her health and the health of Marat. The ministers started to arrive and the celebration started. Suddenly Marat stood up, started to pour petrol on himself and automatic lighter in his left hand and started shouting “Hey, listen to me why I will kill myself”.

Suddenly a huge Federal policeman jumped to the area, started approaching Marat trying to strip him from the lighter. I jumped and shouted warning the policeman that there is big chance that he will set himself alight if the policeman did not stop approaching him. I told the policeman that this man had tired to commit suicide at least three times in the last year. The policeman stopped and started negotiating with him. I kept warning the Federal policemen from making any stupid moves, as the situation is very dangerous and we could lose this young life. “Shut up and let me finish and tell them why I want to kill myself” Marat started to shout on me.

The real reason why Marat tried to commit suicide:
“I want to kill myself as the government not only treated my parents very badly, but they put my father in jail for no reason”. The main issue for Marat was his father and his unlawful arrest and the subsequent mistreatment. “How can government not provide him with Russian interpreter, just to keep him behind bars? What kind of democracy?”

The feelings were very high. The mother collapsed in front of us. My wife was trying to calm her down, but she was shouting “my son, I am losing my son, please help me” then she crawled, as she could not stand on her feet anymore. By that time, the policeman convinced Marat to through away the lighter and stop his attempt.

What amazed me that one cameraman was persistently abusing Alija in very bad way. My wife told me that he even told her to “shut your mouth and go to help your son away from minister’s speech”. I confronted him and asked for his name to complain against him for both assault and unprofessionalism. He ran away while the area turned into media theatre.

The scene was if there was a major war battle. Many fire brigades, tens of federal police cars and officers and few ambulances. One ambulance took Alija, against her well, to hospital.

Unprofessional moves by politicized health services:
As we understood by then that the unprofessional politicized acts taken by Canberra hospital health workers was the main reasons behind the attempt by Marat to end his life, we expected that he and his mother would be taken to the other government hospital. But they were taken to the same Canberra hospital. Another unprofessional and unethical act by health authorities.

When I arrived to the hospital with my wife, there was security alert. My wife was shocked. I started to joke with my wife to calm her down. “They are thinking that Bin Laden had arrived to hospital. My beard would not help us in these moments”.

Many huge security officers were everywhere in hospital. Immediately after our arrival, 2 female journalist from The Australian (Nicole Berkovic) and The Daily Telegraph (Alison Rehn) followed us to follow up on the family’s situation. Suddenly, officials form hospital approached us and asked the journalists to leave immediately. “They are ordinary citizens. Would you prevent ordinary citizens from coming to visit patients?” I asked these hospital officials. “No, they are journalists. We know this and they had admitted” they replied to my comments. “But even journalists are ordinary citizens” I argued. “If you want to argue, they can lodge complaint to the hospital management”. We were enforced to go out to the street outside the hospital to talk about the family’s case.

Health services became as corrective services:
After talking to journalists in the street outside the hospital, I went and asked to see Marat and his mother. The reception denied that Marat is there. They also told me that Alija is in bad situation and she preferred not to see anyone. They asked me to wait for few minutes until she calms down. I was suspicious about this. I then tried to call her mobile. She answered and asked me where I am. I said that they told me that she does not want to see anyone. She then started to cry. Suddenly few nurses approached me and asked me to follow them. When Alija knew that I was outside, she stood up and asked them to release her. When they refused, she stood up and started to shout and cry in the middle of the emergency department. They were enforced to let me see her. It was very clear that the minister of immigration gave them orders not to let me see her or her son.

In front of me, they were treating her as if she is criminal. I started to talk to them in very sharp language. I also started to make phone calls to journalists. After that they changed their language with her. Then the responsible nurse came to see us and told us that they will keep her in hospital for few hours, as her sugar level was very high. I asked about Marat, she told me that she cannot tell us.

We started to feel that we are back to Soviet era, where everything is done behind “iron curtain”.

After talking to doctor, who assured me that she will be released after sugar checks finished and stabilized. Alija at that time asked me to go back to Sydney, and she will let me know what will happen.

After arriving to Sydney around 9 pm, I tried to contact her, but her phone was switched off. I thought that she was released and she went to sleep.

Early at morning, I tried to call her again, but no answer. I started to feel that something is wrong. I called Canberra hospital, where they told me that they executed order to keep her in psychiatric unit for 3 days. The same is with Marat. At this end, I became very angry and frustrated.

Ultimatum to the minister to release everyone, or face the consequences:
I immediately called few network’s members and we decided to go straight to Federal Parliament. We did not have any plans. I just sent media release giving ultimatum to the government that if they will not release all Aminov’s family, we will take steps that will make Australian government a symbol of international shame. We also talked to people in Canberra in case we will need some help.

Before arriving to Canberra, I received phone call that Marat and his mum were released from psychiatric unit, before the 3 days ended. Then I received call form Marat that his father was released on bail.

Long way before restoring humanity to this nation’s politics:
We thought that by getting rid of John Howard’s xenophobic government we would automatically get rid of all its inhumane undemocratic practices. But we discovered that the new Labor government is enjoying abusing the same methods and practices. So far in the case of this family, the Labor government had mobilized all departments and services to keep the inhumane status quo. The politicizing of especially the health services is very appalling.

Where are the so-called “progressive politicians”?
There are few other questions will come to our mind, but the most important is the role of “progressive” political parties and independents in exposing these shameful practices.

While the Parliament of Australia is empty from any real progressive forces, we will continue fighting until Aminovs get final solution for their ordeal. And we will do this before any human lives lost.

And please do not think that this is unique case. The government is sitting on piles of similar cases. The issue is not about asylum seekers’ treatment. It is about racism related to feeling of need to maintain the grip of power by one ethnicity who does not want to share this power with people from other cultures.

We will write in details about this, and we will take all steps to expose the real face and agenda of all these so-called “regressive” forces that want to convince us of their progressiveness.

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