As Solidarity goes to press The West Australian carried a report that Chris Bowen hopes to have an agreement with the Afghan government to accept deportations “within months”.
Hundreds of Afghans are languishing in detention. The rejection of Afghan and Tamil protection claims escalated after the government’s visa freeze announcement in April, despite the UNHCR insisting that the countries’ background information has not changed.
The rejection rates show how offshore processing is subject to political interference. Refugee assessors are even accepting the fact of persecution but rejecting Hazara refugee applications, insisting that they can live safely in Kabul. Rejected asylum seekers are waiting for the decision from the High Court challenge to the legality of offshore processing.
Stop this deportation
The deportation of a Chinese family in the last week of October has also set off alarm bells. The father and son were deported on Friday 29 October—only hours after the mother had attempted suicide that morning. She was also scheduled for removal on Friday. A psychiatrist’s report in August 2010 saying that she was suicidal has proven tragically prophetic.
The case has thrown a light on the bureaucratic machinations that toy with refugees’ lives.
Significant information—including the fact that the Chinese Public Security Bureau had issued a summons for the father to appear in court and that another son had been imprisoned in a re-education camp for seven months for holding an unlawful assembly of underground Christians—has been sent to the immigration department.
Yet the Ministerial Intervention Unit (in reality an obstruction unit) has refused to pass any information to the Minister since 2009.
The mother remains in Villawood, but still faces deportation after a court hearing on 19 November. You can help to stop this deportation by writing to the Minister for Immigration.
Visit www.refugeeaction.org.au for more info
By Ian Rintoul