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Forced to graduate behind bars: Asylum seeker gets year 12 certificate in detention

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By Bennet Nichol

An Iranian girl has earned her Queensland year 12 certificate while in detention at the Wickham Port immigration centre in Darwin.

Fleeing from an arranged marriage to a 60 year old man in Iran in 2012, Mojgan Shamsalipoor, now 21, attended Yeronga State High School in year 10 in order to complete her education.

Mojgan applied for a partnership visa after marrying a high school companion in 2014; however her application was rejected by the government.

Currently, an asylum seeker cannot apply for a partnership visa. Instead Mojgan is being forced to return to Iran to successfully apply for a visa; however she faces prosecution and physical threats in Iran, due to her participation in multicultural dance events, outlawed in her home country.

On the 17th of August 2014, Mojgan was forced into a Brisbane detention centre by armed immigration officers, and had to complete her year 11 education while she was living at the detention centre.

Mojgan’s teacher, and Queensland Teachers Union representative Ms Walker describes Mojgan’s daily routine to the Brisbane Times.

“From January 2015 until August 2015 she was coming to school every day, being driven to school every day from the detention centre in Brisbane by armed guard, doing her studies, getting back into the armed van and going back to the detention centre,” Ms Walker said.

Mojgan was then, without warning, transferred to Darwin’s Wickham Port immigration centre 12 weeks before she was set to graduate year 12.

“On August 7, she was transferred to Wickham Point – we still don’t know why –and that was when she was within 12 weeks of completing Year 12,” Ms Walkers said.

A Yeronga State High School teacher then flew to Darwin to assist Mojgan in her completion of her studies.

Mojgan will receive her year 12 certificate today, after completing her Queensland high school education.

Yeronga State High School teachers participated in an afternoon strike to protest the immigration department’s decision to deny Mojgan’s visa, and others have asked Immigration Minister Peter Dutton directly to allow Mojgan to apply.

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