Hamid went to protest outside the Iranian embassy in Canberra
The Iranian protester allegedly yelled out that he couldn’t breathe when a police officer placed his knee on his back, before passing out.
Iranian Australians say they’ve been left speechless after a protester’s altercation with Australian Federal Police (AFP) left a man hospitalised, likening the “brutality” to the same experienced by protesters in Iran.
The Iranian Australian man suffered broken ribs and spinal injuries in the incident outside the Iranian embassy in Canberra on Thursday morning.
Hamid, who served in the Australian Defence Force for 14 years, said he and two friends were staging a protest on the footpath across the road from the embassy against the Iranian government’s treatment of its people.
Speaking from his hospital bed in a video sent to SBS News, Hamid said AFP officers wanted to remove him because he was “suspicious”.
When Hamid stood his ground, he said an officer pushed him in the chest several times before he was kicked to the ground while filming the altercation.
He said when he fell onto the ground, he heard cracks in his back and repeatedly told the officer, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, call the ambulance”.
The officer allegedly then pressed his knee in his pelvic area. Hamid’s fellow protesters soon returned to the area to find him unresponsive on the floor.
Hamid said he has made the weekly commute from Melbourne to Canberra 16 times since the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, triggering a wave of civil unrest in Iran.
He also said he received prior confirmation from another AFP officer that he could legally protest across the road from the embassy if he didn’t hold anything in his hands.
He has suffered three fractures in his back and finger and has cuts on his face.
“I’m very shocked, I’m very disappointed … I’m very surprised how much force has been involved to actually put me down and arrest me. That’s disgraceful,” he said.
In a statement, an AFP spokesperson said they are aware of a man who was “detained for a short period of time” outside the Iranian embassy.
“The person was arrested and detained when he behaved aggressively to officers and failed to comply with a lawful direction,” the spokesperson said.
“The person complained of back pain after he was handcuffed. Those handcuffs were removed and an ambulance was called.”
The incident has been referred to the AFP’s internal integrity unit to investigate whether Hamid’s injuries were a result of the police altercation.
Fellow protester Roquie was shocked at the incident.
“We’re here protesting the brutality of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and are left speechless today after facing the same brutality here in Australia,” she said.
Greens spokesperson David Shoebridge condemned the “needlessly brutal arrest”, and called for an “urgent independent investigation” to be held into the officers’ conduct.
“There is a right to peaceful protest in Australia and this must include the right to political protest on public roads and pathways in front of foreign Embassies,” he wrote on Twitter.
While the AFP spokesperson said people have a right to peaceful protest, it will “take action when individuals put themselves or others in danger, break the law or fail to follow the direction of police.”
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