Why 2 heavily pregnant women refused to get off a hot bus in Darwin.

nauru refugee
The plane from Nauru bound for Darwin. Image via ABC.




Two heavily pregnant refugees who had refused to leave a bus for more than three days were intentionally left in the Northern Territory sun without air-conditioning and not brought food and water, advocates say.

After attempts to break the standoff failed, the women, both eight months pregnant, were removed with force and taken into detention, the Refugee Action Coalition says.


Spokesman Ian Rintoul said he had spoken with Adnam Shirvani, husband of Maryam, who is eight-months pregnant and father of 10-year-old Amir, who was also on the bus.

“The department deliberately, intentionally moved the bus to keep it in the sun,” Mr Rintoul said.

“They turned off the air-conditioning, allowing it to overheat. At one point both the pregnant women had fainted from the heat.”

Mr Rintoul also claimed the officials stopped bringing the refugees food and water, in an effort to get them off the bus.

“They said it was very obvious they were deliberately trying to force them off the bus.”

“At one point both the pregnant women had fainted from the heat,” a refugee advocate claims. (Note: This is a stock image)

Mr Rintoul described the conditions on the bus as extraordinary.

“There’s legislation against keeping children or even animals in heated vehicles, so people can only imagine what kind of temperature it got to in the sun in Darwin,” he said.

After initial attempts to coax the women from the bus failed, the heavily pregnant women were removed with force, Mr Rintoul said.

A version of this post originally appeared on the ABC and has been republished here with permission.

Previously, we reported…

Two pregnant women brought from Nauru to Darwin to give birth are refusing to get off a bus with their families near the Wickham Point Detention Centre, asylum seeker advocates say.


Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said the families, who were from Iran and had spent 15 months in detention on Nauru, were demanding accommodation in the community rather than at the detention centre.

Mr Rintoul said the families were among a group found to be refugees and resettled within Nauruan communities earlier this year.

He said the women were both around eight months pregnant and had been brought to Australia yesterday to give birth.

They had been assured they would not be placed in detention while in Darwin, he said.

“When they arrived in Australia, they were told they would be taken to the detention centre and put on a bus to take them to Wickham Point,” he said.

They arrived at the centre and began their protest before midnight last night, he said.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the families had not been told they would be placed in the community.

A spokesman said they had been told they would be housed at Wickham Point.

“The Department and detention service provider is continuing to engage proactively and sensitively with the families to resolve the situation,” he said.

“The transferees are receiving care appropriate to their condition.”

Mr Rintoul said he had spoken with a brother in law of one of the women, who was in Australia, as well as friends of the families on Nauru.


The 10-year-old son of one of the women and both women’s husbands were on the bus, he said.

He said pregnant asylum seekers were often transferred from Nauru to Wickham Point to give birth, but this was the first time the policy had been applied to refugees living outside of detention.

He said the refugees wanted to be housed in the community in Darwin or else returned to living in the community on Nauru.

A man who said he was a brother of one of the men on the bus told the ABC the two families had all been found to be refugees and were released from detention to live in the Nauru community.

Melbourne resident Soliman Shirvani said the Australian Government told them they would be taken to Australia for the women to give birth.

They had been told they would be living in community housing, he said.

When they arrived at the airport they said they were put on a bus to go back into detention with no explanation given, Mr Shirvani said.

He said they would rather return to Nauru than go back into detention.

The Wickham Point Detention Centre was not a suitable facility for pregnant woman, according to the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network.

Spokesman Ben Pynt said there were several pregnant woman and small children in the detention centre.


“The facilities simply are not right to hold that kind of vulnerable person,” he said.

He said he had spoken with people inside the centre who described the families as “incredibly distressed”.

The plane bound for Darwin from Nauru. Image via ABC.

“The re-traumatisation posed by the process of going back into detention is so great that they don’t know what to do,” he said.

“They’re beside themselves.

“They’ve been on the bus since late last night. I imagine it’s very hot and stuffy in there. It’s a hot Darwin day. There is a toilet on board the bus but they’ve simply refusing to leave. They don’t care what the conditions are like.

“These two women were transferred here under the understanding they’d be going into the community and that they’d receive treatment when they needed it, but otherwise they’d be free to roam around. They’ve been recognised as refugees, they’ve passed all their security tests and they’ve been brought to detention by surprise.”

He added the Nauruan hospital was not equipped to deal with complex pregnancies.

“People have to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment, particularly complex treatment,” he said.

This article originally appeared on ABC and has been republished here with full permission.