August 01, 2015 | smh
An Afghan asylum seeker has died at a West Australian detention centre from a suspected heart attack amid claims he had been denied medical treatment for two weeks.
Refugee advocates say that the Yongah Hill Detention Centre, north-east of Perth, is in lockdown and the riot squad has been mobilised after fellow detainees were told about the death of the Afghan man, believed to be Mohammad Nasim Najafi.
But a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Protection said there was no unrest at the centre. The spokesperson confirmed a male detainee had died, saying there was no indication of suicide or suspicious circumstances and an investigation was underway.
“The WA Police attended the centre and will now conduct an investigation as per normal practices,” the spokeswoman said. “The department extends our deepest sympathy to the individual’s family and friends.”
The spokesperson said detainees have access to appropriate health care and medical treatment “at a standard at least comparable to the health care available to the Australian community generally”.
Fellow detainees said the man was sick and had been complaining about a heart condition for the past two weeks. “They did not let him see a doctor … only gave him Panadol,” said a detainee.
“He said he couldn’t breathe … they let him die. Everyone is sad, very sad,” he said.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the circumstances surrounding the death warranted a full investigation. “It is time for a thorough review of the health and welfare services across the detention network.”
It is understood that Mr Najafi, who was in his mid-20s, arrived at Christmas Island four years ago by boat after his family was killed by the Taliban.
A detainee who knew him said he had suffered mental health problems after the death of his father. The detainee said the only treatment offered for mental health at the centre was medication that made them “sleep all the time”.
Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the death has highlighted the neglect and lack of medical care in the detention centre.
“There is no excuse for keeping someone in detention for three years,” Mr Rintoul said. “If he had been in the community, he would more likely still be alive.”