Pacific / Papua New Guinea

Manus Island refugee doctor dies in Australia

08:24 am on 18 October 2019

A medical doctor from Afghanistan who was detained on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island has died in Australia.

Sayed Mirwais Rohani, a 32-year old refugee, was detained on the island in September 2013 but transferred to Australia in 2017 for medical treatment.

Sayed Mirwais Rohani Photo: Abdul Aziz Adam

Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul said Dr Rohani had been a patient in a mental health hospital in Brisbane before spending about a year in community detention.

Mr Rintoul and other refugees detained on Manus said Dr Rohani took his his own life in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Australia's Department of Home Affairs confirmed to media an individual had died while living in the Brisbane community, and extended its sympathies to the family.

"Mirwais was brought to Australia from Manus Island in 2017 as his mental health badly deteriorated. He had been living in community detention in Brisbane for the last year," Mr Rintoul said.

"Mirwais had a medical degree from a Chinese university which is recognised by Australia. He completed his degree in English and spoke six languages."

Listen to Ian Rintoul on Dateline Pacific

During his time on the island, the pediatrician had offered to work in Manus Island's Lorengau hospital for free but was not allowed to do so, Mr Rintoul said.

The doctor was charged by Manus Island police for resisting arrest in 2015 but the case was reportedly withdrawn on the basis that he was mentally unwell at the time of the incident.

Members of the refugee's family who were granted asylum in Britain had travelled to PNG and Australia to see Mr Rohani, Mr Rintoul said.

The refugee was prevented from joining them in the UK by the Australian government, he said.

"Mirwais' death is yet more evidence of the damage that offshore detention is doing. It's time offshore detention was ended."

Mirwais Rohani is the eighth man detained on Manus Island since 2013 to die in Australian detention.

Where to get help

These are services across the Pacific for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

In Tonga:

Lifeline 23000 or 25144

In Fiji:

Lifeline 667 0565

Fiji Womens' Crisis Centre 3313300 (24 hours) Mobile: 9209470

In Papua New Guinea:

Lifeline Port Moresby 326 0011

1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain 7150 8000

In Samoa:

Samoa Lifeline 800-5433

In the Cook Islands:

Te Kainga O Pa Taunga 20162

In New Zealand:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155