The Australian Government has transferred a dying Afghan asylum seeker to Brisbane, from Nauru for palliative care after intense protest from members of the public, doctors, and the media.

Ali* is a Hazara refugee and a father of six. He has advanced lung cancer and is believed to have only a few months left to live. The Hazara are a persecuted ethnic group from the region of Hazarajat, Afghanistan. 

The 63-year-old had spent five years in the Nauru detention centre.

This afternoon, an air ambulance flew Ali to Brisbane.

Despite being a formally recognised refugee, the Australia Border Force (ABF) had refused to bring Ali to Australia. Instead, they reportedly offered him $25,000 to return to his home country even though he faces a very real fear of persecution in Afghanistan. ABF also told Ali he could go to Taiwan to receive care but he did want to go because he does not know anybody there and feared nobody would know his language, Hazaragi. 

Ali did not want to go to Taiwan because he was afraid nobody would perform the Shia Muslim rituals and ceremonies on his body after he died.

Outraged by Ali’s treatment, members of the public signed a Change.Org petition by Australian Women in Support of Women on Nauru directed at Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton. 

Of the 25,000 signature goal, over 24,000 people signed their names.

Over 2,000 doctors signed a separate petition pleading to Dutton to bring Ali to Australia for proper palliative care:

“Nauru is not an appropriate place for this man to die. The Australian Border Force tacitly acknowledged this by offering to transfer him to Taiwan for palliative care. He requires expertise beyond what is available on Nauru.

…If he goes to Taiwan, where there are no Hazara, he will die isolated and without community. This is no way to die.

If he remains on Nauru, he faces a potentially catastrophic death, without medical expertise to ease his pain and
symptoms. This is no way to die.

His only chance of a good death is to come to Australia so that he can have both community and medical expertise.

Our international reputation depends on it. Our humanity demands it.”

Ali’s story was originally published by the Guardian Australia

*Ali is a patronym, his full name is withheld to protect his family.

Image: Getty Images / Digital Globe