Iran wants to stop the boats

Iran has warned its citizens to stay off "death ships" sailing with asylum seekers from Indonesia to Australia, saying refugees are mistreated on Manus Island.

In a blunt message in state media, Iran's deputy foreign minister, Hassan Qashqavi, has demanded families stop young people "travelling to Australia through illegal channels".

He said 90 per cent of boats from Indonesia to Australia sink and the passengers die - a claim at odds with most accounts.

Quoted by the FARS News Agency, Mr Qashqavi said even those Iranians who reach Australia safely "lose their lives in refugee camps" and that Australia's ambassador in Tehran had been summoned in protest at their treatment.

"The islands that Australia has considered for sheltering the refugees who intend to enter the country via the sea have hard and inhumane weather conditions and the refugees are not treated well in them," Mr Qashqavi reportedly said.

"Sometimes, the refugees are deliberately kept in bad weather conditions, made to suffer malnutrition and don't receive proper medical treatment, and we have always protested at such a behaviour of the Australian government."

Mr Qashqavi's comments were reported on Wednesday but appear to have been made last month following the death of Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei.

Mr Kehazaei died after cutting his foot in the Australian-run immigration detention camp in Papua New Guinea and developing septicemia.

The number of asylum seekers from Iran arriving by boat in Australia increased substantially from 2011, leading former foreign minister Bob Carr to later claim most were economic migrants.

Mr Qashqavi called for human rights activists to put an end to such inhumane conditions in Australia.


On Friday, the Foreign Affairs department said: "Australian officials, including the Australian Ambassador in Tehran, have discussed illegal arrival issues with the Iranian MFA over time and have exchanged views."

This story Iran wants to stop the boats first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.