This interview on the ABC’s World Today shows how dubious the government’s claim is that the situation is improving for the Hazara people from Afghanistan. The government’s freeze on processing claims, the reopening of old discredited detention centres and the Opposition’s proposals to bring back Temporary Protection Visas (or something worse) for refugees who arrive her by boat – along with the political and media debate sliding back down into Howard-era levels of vitriol, demonisation and hatespeech – is already causing significant trauma for many refugee communities in Australia.
Unless the number of people speaking out against this trend increases, things are likely to get even worser by the time the election rolls around. Amnesty International is organising rallies in a number of capital cities tomorrow – the one in Brisbane is at King George Square from 1pm.
Below are some excerpts from the ABC interview with Nader Nadery, who has been a commissioner on the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission since it was established in 2002.
ELEANOR HALL: What’s your view of the Australian Government’s change of policy on Afghan asylum seekers?
NADER NADERY: We unfortunately learned about putting on hold Afghan asylum seekers in Australia.
It’s very dangerous to make a very general assessment of the situation and say it’s safe for the asylum seekers to return back to Afghanistan.
As you know and as we are witness on daily basis there, a major part of the country where there’s even not a minimum level of rule of law and protection for people, often the police is the source of violation of rights of the individual instead of being a protector of it.
We don’t have protection mechanisms in different parts of the country who could provide some level of security and protection to those people at risk, let alone those that are under direct attack from the elements within the Government.
In my case as I continue with my colleagues fighting our fight, I go around in an armoured car. And I do have an organisational protection. But I do not live a normal life.
So for those ordinary people who have no organisational protection, who do not have an armoured car and who often come under attack from some elements within the Government, some war lords and also consistently if they are active with their aid or development or government organisations – they would be a target of the insurgents and the terrorist groups.
It’s not a safe place and it’s very dangerous to make a general statement about the entire country.