I’m attending a forum in Brisbane today which is examining how to respond to the issues that arise from the case of Dr Mohamed Haneef. There are some interesting speakers who I expect will shed more light on this specific case. A relative of Dr Haneef’s who has just arrived in the country will probably also be present. The Australian newspaper has distinguished itself over recent years in running a flurry of articles, often on the front page, that whip up fear and loathing against Muslims, so you know things must seriously stink when they publish an article calling Dr Haneef’s treatment “a case of plain old verballing”.
However, this is far from the first case in Australia where someone has been locked up without charge or trial as a result of the excessive powers given to government minsters under the Migration Act. There are many worse examples. Click on this link to read of one example I wrote about early last year. It gives the detail of a case of a man who was locked up for over six years on the basis of evidence which was withheld from him. When he finally got access to the allegations, he was able to eventually demonstrate it was a case of mistaken identity. He was finally released, with no apology and no compensation – just six years of his life taken away for no good reason, while his children grew up without him.
Perhaps the Haneef case will finally wake people up to the fact that our Migration Act allows politically motivated decisions to be made which inflict gross injustices and suffering on people for no good reason.
This article in The Australian about the reaction in India to Haneef case is also worth noting. It reports on a meeting in Bangalore “between India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Ahamed, a member of India’s 150million-strong Muslim community, and Dr Haneef’s wife, Firdous Arshiya.”
“The Haneef case has not made anyone happy; not the media, not the legal fraternity, and not the 200,000-strong Indian community in Australia,” Mr Ahamed said after the meeting.
As an aside, I spoke to Dr Haneef’s wife on the phone a couple of days ago. It must be very hard for her to deal with this situation, especially given that she has only recently given birth to their first child – not to mention that the income her husband was earning has been cut off by the Queensland government.
UPDATE: The forum at Griffith University in Brisbane was extremely well attended – around 200 people for a gathering that had only been planned a few days ago. There were a lot of strong speakers and a lot of determination to try to turn Australia in a better direction and away from the fear and growing constraints on freedom which permeate so much of Australian politics.