Afghans to be sent back to danger

Not safe: Hazara women and children in Kabul during Taliban attack January 2010. Photo: Kabulboy.webs.com

The governments of Australia and Afghanistan have struck a deal to send back rejected Afghan asylum seekers against their will.

Australia promised $5.8 million to the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai to “improve the passport system” and fund resettlement, but has been condemned for neglecting the interests of refugees themselves.

Immigration minister Chris Bowen signed the deal with a minister of the corrupt Karzai regime on January 17. Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Dr Jamaher Anwary was in Sydney to take part in talks on “people smuggling”.

The Oceania representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Richard Towle, also signed the deal.

Refugee advocates have condemned the agreement, saying the Karzai government was illegitimate and Afghanistan was still a war zone.

The next day, more than 300 Afghan refugees in Curtin detention centre launched a hunger strike.

The refugees said poor treatment, processing delays and lack of a fair legal process triggered the hunger strike. The rising rate of failed asylum requests of refugees in Curtin has also caused distress.

A message from inside Curtin, sent to refugee rights activists, said every detainee was “boycotting the mess”.

The message said: “Last week only three people got a decision [on their case for asylum], all of them ‘No’… Now the Australian government is sending us back to that country. It is like signing an agreement with our enemy. Is that humanity?

“We want freedom or death, protection not detention.”

Refugee support group RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-detainees) said that by January 19, 350 men in Curtin sat outside overnight, refusing to eat. They held placards that read: “Where are our human rights” and “Stop playing games with our lives”.

Reports of suicide attempts have also emerged.



Despite UN-authored reports showing a rise in violence in Afghanistan over the past 12 months, in December Towle said Australia needed to deport rejected asylum seekers and not leave them “sitting in detention centres”, AAP said on December 19.

But Edmund Rice Centre president Phil Glendenning, writing in the January 19 Age online, said Afghans returned from Australia would be in “grave jeopardy”.

“Last year was the most violent in Afghanistan since 2001, and most victims of the increased violence were civilians, especially women and children,” he said.

The new deal includes guidelines for sending back separated and unaccompanied children. In December, the number of children in detention in Australia rose above 1000.

Bowen said the agreement was part of Australia’s “tough” stance on so-called people smuggling, and part of a strategy to stop asylum seeker boats arriving.

But Sydney’s Refugee Action Collective (RAC) said the agreement was hypocritical.

RAC spokesperson Ian Rintoul said: “The government has already reneged on one commitment of the agreement. Section 3(c) of the [agreement] refers to an ‘independent merits review’ for Afghan asylum seekers but the recent announcement of the government has removed merits review appeals from the determination process.

“There is no adequate monitoring process in the [agreement] to ensure the safety of anyone returning to Afghanistan. Too many mistakes have been made in the past with the Australian government returning asylum seekers to danger and death.”

Australian and Western media grossly underreport the extent of atrocities in Afghanistan.

In June, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said violence in Afghanistan was near its worst level in the nine-year war, with an “alarming” rise in bomb and suicide attacks, reported Reuters.

By December he said: “Afghanistan is less safe now than 10 years ago, less safe now for civilians than in any year since 2001.”

Glendenning said: “A recent background briefing on Afghanistan from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees includes a report from aid agencies titled Afghanistan: humanitarian situation likely to worsen in 2011.”

The UNHCR reviewed its international protection “guidelines” for Afghanistan in March, but did not change or downgrade its assessment. Towle himself said in October that many parts of Afghanistan remained “extremely dangerous”.

Australia’s own travel advice website, Smartraveller.gov.au, lists Afghanistan as one of only 11 countries under the status “do not travel”.

It said: “We strongly advise you not to travel to Afghanistan because of the extremely dangerous security situation and the very high threat of terrorist attack.”

“If you are in Afghanistan, you should consider leaving.”

Comments

I agree with your assumption.

I am an afghan Australian, i condemn the deal between Australian and afghan minister to send the rejected refugees back to Afghanistan, there are thousands reason if i mention it one by one, but i mention some of the main one, firstly the security in Afghanistan is very bad, the taliban is getting ready for a big operation to attack to the main citis, like Kandahar kandooz, mazer sharif , ghazni and many more places, Pakistan is helping Taliban and giving them training in Baluchistan , because the current Taliban not listening to them, they have to replace them with Pakistani Taliban , who take orders from Islam abad, president karzai is not safe in Afghanistan, there some american agencies who are providing security for Mr president, ok the new parliament can not make a move towards democracy, any voice for democracy and civilization stops by ministers who were responsible for long military invasion to another party in previous time, because they have to cover their own mistakes while they are in power, and the outsider only support the minister who listen to them, not to the oppressed people of Afghanistan, I guess the ruling system is wrong in Afghanistan. secondly the afghan economy is very poor, if u see the news about kabul and other cities, the unemployment rate is far from Ur believe, thousands of Afghani children are dying of hunger and disease, why afghan government not giving job to these people and not providing medic-en for them, afghan families selling their body parts to help other family member to survive, lastly why Australia sending their troops to Afghanistan? because the Taliban still there, they are thousands of them waiting for another chance to attack, they are fighting for their wrong faiths, not for the money, because they are getting enough money from Arabic countries or alqaida,

Thanks for the post! been looking for information like this for awhile.

You dont seem to understand why we need to screen boat people. Firstly the easiest way to infiltrate our country would be for the Taliban to come as you do, on boats. Then if not screened they could recruit within Australia. As rule of thumb most Australians are not fanatic radicals. Over the 50 years of being Australian I have seen this change. Many nationalities coming to Australia adopted our beliefs and customs. Many years ago the chinese then the irish and italians. I grew up with these people who carved Australia through simalisation. Unfotunately the new imigrants seem not to want to assimilate, accept our customs and force yours on us. I agree with the right to freedom of speech. If the people in the detention centres want to protest, so be it, but don't bite the hand that feeds you. You have come here seeking a better life, you should display your want to be here not destroy what we have already given you. If you have family back in another country let them know that they can expect long processing delays and a good deal of time in a detention centre. Let them know that the only way Australia can be such a great country is that they come here through proper channels. Finally let us all believe that we can all live together as brothers and sisters and not devided by religions

Conservative politicians (including from the ALP) have systematically sown division among ordinary people. They have done this to workers, making workplace solidarity pretty close to illegal and they have worked to break down our innate sense of solidarity for the millions of people suffering oppression and war. They are promoting an irrational fear of the tiny proportion of the millions of desperate asylum seekers who are fleeing war and persecution who make it to our shores.

They do this so they can distract us from the real crimes that they are perpetuating in making the richer minority in our society even richer, by holding down wages and working conditions, and by giving the rich billions of dollars annually in corporate subsidies and tax cuts.

Over the least three and a half decades, Labor and Liberal governments have colluded it a $2.2 trillion transfer of income from ordinary working class to the corporate rich. Corporate profit share of total income in Australia has increased from 16.9% to 27.7% since 1974-75 while wage share has decreased from 62.7% to 54%. In today's dollars, that is $2.2 trillion shifted to corporate profits.

The 11 Australians who made the Forbes 1000 richest list for 2010 have a total net wealth of $25.7 billion—more than the net wealth of the country’s 800,000 poorest households.

But the greed of the super-rich knows no bounds. Look at the US where the super-rich received a trillion dollars in tax cuts in the previous budget (yes, even under the Obama Administration) while the US government racked up its accumulated debt to US$14.3 trillion. In that country, the richest 1% take a quarter of all income and control 40%

Over the last three decades the tax rate on the richest individuals and on companies in Australia has been reduced yet the super-rich are demanding even more tax cuts.

While the current corporate tax rate is supposed to be 30% the biggest companies pay accountants and lawyers to avoid and reduce their taxes. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto pay just 13%, while most workers pay 30% or more in effective tax rate. Between 2005 and 2008, more than 40% of big businesses paid no income tax.

We saw the political power of the big mining companies when the former Rudd governments threatened to bring in a mining super-profit tax. Rudd was deposed and the incoming Gillard government quickly did a $60 billion tax give back deal with the big mining companies.

Just 10 years ago about 40% of mining profits came back to public in royalties and taxes now it has been reduced to just 12% while total mining profits have multiplied by more than 10 times. It is literally the biggest corporate rip-off in Australian history!

With this wholesale robbery of our society by the corporate super-rich, it is understandable that the politicians that they have bought off are working hard to distract the ordinary working class people by turning them against asylum seekers, Muslims, etc. It is the old divide and rule strategy.

So the politicians-for-super-rich are doing exactly what we would expect. But we the ordinary people do not have to fall for their dirty, divisive tricks. We don't have to become their dupes.

With unity and solidarity of the oppressed in this country and around the world we can break down all the repressive institutions (including those propped up with the bigotry and backwardness of feudal religious dogmas).

There is no evidence that any asylum seekers arriving by boat have any connection to terrorism. The Director General of ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) Mr Dennis Richardson has admitted on official record that no terrorists had ever been found amongst the clientele of people smugglers. "Why would you send your best trained, most valuable personnel down a route which ended in mandatory detention, if not death along the way?"

On behalf of my Australian brothers and sisters, I could not have put this any better...well stated.

You don't speak on behalf of this Australian, "brother".

Awesine Posting, I learned something! Which is rare.

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