Threats to deport Ali Humayun

October 19, 2007

Ali Beg Humayun was threatened with deportation by the immigration department (DIAC) on October 8. Humayun, a queer Pakistani man, has been locked up for over two-and-a-half years in the Villawood detention centre and is currently appealing a Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) decision not to grant him refugee status.

As a result of Humayun's conversion to Christianity and his bisexuality, his father and brother have threatened to kill him if he returns home.

In addition to the High Court appeal against the RRT decision, Humayun has a case before the Supreme Court in which he is suing the government and detention centre management Global Solutions Ltd for negligence in their duty of care. Humayun became addicted to heroin after GSL took him off his daily dose of Valium, anti-depressants and sleeping tablets. GSL also withdrew his counsellor. Severely depressed, Humayun was placed in Villawood's maximum security section in a cell housing a known heroin user. Ali has since been on a supervised methadone program and is no longer addicted to heroin.

On October 8, Humayun was served his second deportation notice in three months. The letter stated: "You are detained as an unlawful non-citizen. According to our records you have an ongoing Application for special leave to appeal to the High Court from a judgment of the Full Federal Court. As this is not an impediment to removal, section 198(6) of the Migration Act 1958 requires the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to remove you from Australia as soon as reasonably practicable."

After Humayun's barrister threatened to seek an urgent injunction from the High Court to prevent the unlawful removal, the immigration department's lawyers replied that the document Humayun had received should not be considered "actual notice". Humanyun is still awaiting clarification on what this means.

Motahar Hussein, refugee officer for Community Action Against Homophobia, who previously fought a court case against unpaid prison labour in detention centres, told Green Left Weekly that "[the immigration department] are clutching at straws because they are afraid of [Humayun's] court case exposing their negligence, cruelty and corruption. There was no legal basis for them to serve that deportation notice against Ali Humayun and the minister's lawyers know this simple truth.

"They tried to deport Ali illegally to get rid of his compensation claims."

According to Hussein, the department is attempting the illegal deportation of "a huge number of unrepresented detainees who are unable to work out complex judicial system of Australia and are disadvantaged by poor English skills".

Hussein argued that immigration minister Kevin Andrews is "making detention centres excised from the jurisdiction of the courts to deprive the detainees from their legal and constitutional rights as well as to undermine the Migration Act and the will of the parliament".

Hussein described the use of "illegal and fake notices against someone who is known to be severely depressed and in need of urgent and intensive treatment" as inhumane. "Such action will only increase the amount of damages to which Ali Humayun will become entitled through his Supreme Court case."

At the Latin American and Asia Pacific International Solidarity Forum held in Melbourne on October 11-14, guest speaker Farooq Tariq, the general secretary of Labour Party Pakistan, said: "Pakistan is a most dangerous state for Ali. I have seen a few cases where people have been killed because of converting to Christianity. There is 14 years' imprisonment for being homosexual — the military regime is trying to impose strict rules.

"Ali Humayun is not just in danger from the state, but from private gangsters of religious forces who will also attack him. He should be granted asylum here in Australia and be released from detention."

The conference passed a motion "condemning the recent brutal deportations by [the department] from Baxter, Villawood and Nauru detention centres" and calling on the federal government to "free Ali Humayun and all asylum seekers".

Leading human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC has also written to Andrews, urging the government not to deport Humayun.

[To help with the campaign, phone Rachel on 0403 798 420. Visit for more information.]

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