Meanwhile . . .

7 01 2009

This is the kind of story they didn’t want you to hear about during the Howard years:

One is a successful artist who works in robotics and the other is a former kung fu champion on the verge of a promising film career.

But just a few short years ago, Adam Janali and Hussain Sadiqi were refugees locked in immigration detention centres as part of the former Howard government’s tough line on boat people and people smuggling.

Compelled to speak out after reports about the latest wave of asylum seekers which Mr Janali claims “inflame hatred through creating an image of wealthy queue jumpers”, the Afghan men said refugees went on to become hard-working and contributing citizens.

Mr Janali, 31, of North Perth, spent three years in detention after using a network of people smugglers to get out of Afghanistan because of Taliban persecution.

In 2001, the Taliban shot his brother (who had lost a leg in a landmine blast) because he was “of no use to anyone”, so Mr Janali’s parents paid people smugglers to send him “anywhere”. He has not heard from his parents since.

He came to Australia via Iran and Indonesia and said he taught himself to draw and paint while detained in a bid to “keep sane”. He held his first exhibition in 2006, two years after his release. Before coming to Australia he had no English and a solely religious and philosophical education, but now worked both as an artist and a robotics expert in the mining industry.

Now married to a local woman, Mr Janali said he felt Australia was his country too and was concerned about the “exaggerations” surrounding the experiences of the latest wave of refugees, who would also become contributing citizens if given the chance. (The West Australian)

I know Mr Janali, and his wife is a friend who emailed me this story. And I congratulate him and his friend Mr Sadiqi on being able to share their stories.

UPDATE (OF SORTS): Here is an interview with Adam Janali from 2006.





Kudos, Labor . . .

30 07 2008

Tampa Refugees (Safdar Ali Hussaini)

. . . for winding down the mandatory detention of asylum seekers:

SYDNEY, Australia — Australia is ending its policy of automatic detention for asylum seekers who arrive in the country without visas, the government said Tuesday.Detention in immigration centers will be used only as a last resort and for the shortest possible time, Immigration Minister Chris Evans said as he announced the policy change in a speech at Australian National University in the capital, Canberra.

Children and adults who are not considered a security risk will no longer be held, Mr. Evans said. The presumption will be that they will remain in the country while their status is resolved, he said. In addition, the cases of adults who are detained will be reviewed every three months.

Previously, illegal immigrants who reached the Australian mainland were immediately sent to detention centers while the government sifted through their claims for asylum, a process that could take years. (New York Times)

The Howard Government’s refugee policy, and worse than that, the enthusiastic support it received from many Australians, absolutely floored me when it reared its hideous head in the early 2000s. Hansonism in the hands of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party was a fad, and its public face very soon became a laughing-stock and an embarrassment. But, as many a Letters to the Editor page in the early years of this decade would attest, people were at best, indifferent, at worst seemed delighted about brown people from distant lands suffering physically and psychologically in desert camps. The issue galvanised my left-libertarian politics, to the consternation of many of my friends whose email inboxes I would regularly spam with articles condemning the practice. (How Web 1.0!) Read the rest of this entry »