Manus violence: dead asylum seeker named as Iranian Reza Berati, 23
The asylum seeker killed on Manus Island during rioting has been named as 23 year-old Iranian Reza Berati. At
a briefing on Friday, immigration minister Scott Morrison said that
Berati had arrived in Australia on 24 July 2013 – just five days after
the hardline PNG solution was announced – and was sent to Manus Island.
“The family expressed their wish to have the body returned home for burial arrangements,” Morrison said.
group of contractors who all met Berati on Manus island sent Guardian
Australia an exclusive statement describing him as a “gentle giant”.
The group said that Berati was “known to be a joker” and that many of the contractors were helping him to learn English.
read him children’s books such as fairy tales and Reza always waited
and looked forward to meeting with us and reading with him. He studied a
lot,” the group said.
“He used to always pick up bugs and
moths off the ground and put them back in the garden, worried that
someone would step on them. (The guys used to feed the moths to cane
toad frogs around the compound for fun... There wasn’t much else to
do...) He used to try and stop them.”
They continued: “Reza
also always helped staff hand out medical slips and appointment slips to
those in the same compound as him. He wanted to keep busy to avoid
boredom and keep his mind active.”
The group described Berati
as “very tall and very muscly” and said they were worried that he may
have been singled out during the riot because of his size.
of the contractors were present in the detention centre at the time of
the riots but say they had met with Berati “nearly every day” during
their stints on Manus.
“Reza worked out in the gym a lot and
taught his friends how to stay fit and healthy. He helped his friends
learn how to use the gym equipment. Many of the guys did not want to
participate in recreational activities due to stress, depression and
other mental health issues.”
Guardian Australia understands
that Berati was detained in Mike compound where the majority of the
rioting broke out. He was transferred from Oscar compound due to the
length of his stay on Manus, and for good behaviour.