“My name is Safar Ali Fahimi. I am an Hazara asylum seeker from Ghazni province in Afghanistan… I fled Afghanistan because I was on a Taliban death list.” Safar is one of the first asylum seekers to face deportation following a High Court decision in October.
The court ruled that the 200 plus asylum seekers who are “out of process” and at risk of deportation cannot have their final appeals to the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, reviewed.
There are now new legal cases holding up most deportations, over the right to have these asylum seekers’ claims considered against complementary protection measures. But all these legal stop gaps provide is time for the refugee movement to build public support. Asylum seekers not known to advocates may still face deportation.
Safar was living in the community on a bridging visa after two years in detention. Safar is a tiler who has worked since he was ten years old. He speaks no English.
On August 28, he was summoned to a room at the Multicultural Hub in Melbourne, then taken into detention in Maribyrnong. When he didn’t return home, his family he was living with had to ring around to find out where he was, eventually piecing together that he had been detained. Safar was then flown to Villawood in Sydney.
This treatment at the hands of the Immigration department says so much about the systemic cruelty of the refugee processing system. Thankfully, Safar has won an injunction against his deportation until October 26.
The Afghan ambassador in Canberra is refusing to sign travel documents for deportations to Afghanistan—but this hasn’t stopped Immigration, who have managed to find someone in Kabul to do the deed.
As Safar explains, “There are ongoing, regular killings of Hazaras in Ghazni, particularly along the road to my home area, where my people are regularly stopped at Taliban roadblocks, searched and killed.” One asylum seeker sent back to the same province by the Howard government had been home in his village just a week before a group of men, “took him from his house… dragged him outside and choked him to death with barbed wire”, according to an investigation published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The campaign has begun getting union support for motions against deportations to build awareness, particularly in unions that cover airport workers, and drafting leaflets to circulate at the airport. We are also targeting Immigration’s airlines of choice, Thai Airways and Malaysia Air.
By Amy Thomas