The Blue Mountains Community reached out to the grieving family of Hamed Shamshiripour in Iran on Saturday night in Leura. The church was full as the community gathered to express their grief and sadness at the tragic death of asylum seeker Hamed Shamshiripour on Manus Island. Candles were lit and placed under a framed photo of Hamed. Prayers and meditation framed the evening as people were given the space to share their feelings. Several poets read out their moving poetry, scripture was read and many people wrote messages that will be translated and sent to Hamed’s family in Iran with the poetry and photos of the beautiful candlelit space.

The vigil was organised by Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group and the Leura Uniting Church.

Carolyn Craig-Emilsen welcomed people and led us in prayer and meditation. Joy Connor from BMRSG, MC for the evening, told us about 31 year old Hamed.

Hal Ginges, BMRSG chairperson, said ‘Like many others, Hamed had left his home in fear of persecution, torture and death to find his way to a country he had heard was a place of freedom only to be told he would never be allowed to come to Australia’. The 31 year old Hamed, was detained for four years and suffered serious mental illness during his four year incarceration on Manus. He couldn’t return as Iran has banned the return of anyone who seeks asylum. He never got the treatment he needed or the safety he sought. Hal emphasised ‘the need for radical change in Australia’s policy towards people seeking safety and asylum’.

Carolyn Craig Spiritual Director

Candles were lit and placed under a framed photo of Hamed, as Joy invited people to share their feelings. Several people read out moving poems, and many wrote messages that will be translated and sent to Hamed’s family.

Many thanks to Peter Vogel for the photos

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